The Gift of a Kind Word

I struggled with the title of this, but we’ll go with it.

We writers are fragile creatures. We spend hours, days even, inside our own heads, spinning gossamer strands of imagination (yes, I used the word gossamer – even when you’re dealing with dead bodies). And we, or at least I, am constantly plagued with the fear, “What if this sucks?” I’ve accepted it as part of the writer’s lot in life, this fear of being found a fraud.

Last month, I sent a story of mine to a friend. It was my entry to the Black Orchid Novella contest; I hadn’t won, and I was trying to figure out if it was worth saving. I’d just about figured I wouldn’t hear from her until after the new year, when an email arrived.

She loved it. She said I was talented. Those two sentences carried me through the rest of my day, somewhere on cloud nine. I couldn’t have felt better if someone had handed me a million dollars. Seriously. I mean, money is nice and all, but this was unvarnished support and validation. As another friend said, “Say it with me, I don’t suck!”

It struck me that we often don’t think of the power of a kind word, a gift that is so simple to give and literally free. It takes nothing except thought and awareness. This time of year, malls, and the post office, and stores are filled with cranky people wanted to finish their shopping, and send their cards and packages. Think of all the folks behind those counters. They need to keep smiling, even when I’m sure at least some of them want to snap back. You can put a smile on their faces by simply saying, “Merry Christmas,” or whatever your preferred greeting is.

We get so wound up with finding that “perfect” gift. But perfect gifts come from the heart, not the wallet. A “please,” “thank you,” or “you look great today” can brighten someone’s entire mood. And it’s easy to do if we keep our hearts open.

So tell me, have you ever brightened someone’s day with your words, or had someone do the same for you?

Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She's worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, but finds creating fiction is far more satisfying than writing software manuals. A lifelong mystery fan, she is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series. The first book, Root of All Evil, will be released by Level Best Books in August 2018. Her short fiction has been published in several anthologies, including the Anthony-award-winning Blood on the Bayou, Mystery Most Historical and The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos. Visit her at, find her on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter (@LizMilliron).

11 thoughts on “The Gift of a Kind Word”

  1. I think the ability to sincerely compliment somebody — the key is sincerely — is the main component of charm. And who wouldn’t want to be considered charming? Too many people lay it on too thick (which makes it seem insincere) or don’t take the time to compliment someone in an honest, heartfelt way. This small gesture can make all the difference in someone’s day, in someone’s world. I always try to remember that each person is fighting his or her own battle. We never know how that kind word can make a difference in someone’s life.


  2. I make a point of telling people when they’ve done things or said things well, because the world is full of complaints. In a different vein, I called my college mentor the other day to tell her that when I was teaching a class recently, I didn’t just feel at the top of my game, i felt I was channeling her, doing all the things in the classroom I remembered she did so well: listening carefully, weaving together seemingly disparate elements of the discussion, staying focused while we were having fun (and outsiders might have thought it was mere chaos). She said that was her best Christmas gift in years.


  3. Lovely! It is amazing how far a few kind words can go. I try really hard to make time to share compliment and positive feedback. I had an unplanned meeting with one of my daughter’s teachers last week. The teachers at her school spend a week writing detailed comments for every child for their report cards. I mentioned how much I appreciated the time and effort that went into the comments, and how meaningful it was for me, as a parent. The teacher looked stunned, and then told me I was the first person in four years to even mention the comments to her. And then she grinned, and thanked me for noticing. It was such a nice feeling, to have made her day so easily!


  4. A cheering post, Mary. Thank you. I recently went to my hometown for a book signing. One family came to buy more books because they’d all been trying to read the one they had in their house. Everyone had their own book mark in it and they kept scrambling over who got to read. One young man gave the adult of the household a look and teased, “Somebody took mine out. I thought that was a hint.” They all laughed. What a joyful thing to hear.


  5. Pam, yes, I think parents often overlook, or take for granted, the time it takes for a teacher to write really meaningful comments. And really, those comments are so much more helpful than a list of plus/minus marks!

    Theresa, that is too funny. Sounds like something that would happen in my house. 🙂 Glad the signing was a success!


  6. I have a friend who flashes a peace sign at drivers this time of year. She says they smile in reply. All it takes is one little gesture or a few words to totally change the tenor of someone’s day. I’m with you — it’s easy to do. Why not do it?

    This gets me thinking about people who write bad reviews because they can. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic of conversation, eh? 🙂


  7. I do think a generous compliment is a lovely gift–thank you for pointing this out, Mary. Also good: a retweet, a comment, a like on a post–these are small gifts too. On my birthday last year, an old friend visited my blog & commenting on several things–best gift ever! 🙂


  8. What a lovely post and what a wonderful group of comments! I think kindness in general is always a treasure…and when people take the time to say something kind, it does have that power to linger. I used to adore that commercial where one person did one small nice thing for someone and then they did one small nice thing for someone else, and it turned in to a chain of goodness…wish more days were like that for more people.


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