Compliment Cluster: Workshop Musings

Reflections on doing compliment clusters; tips and methods, by MUHAMMED NOUSHAD.


This activity is meant to create an environment where people give and take personal compliments, in order to know themselves better. The crowd, ideally below 30, is formed into a cluster (not a circle), may be two feet distance among each other, in a way that everybody places their both hands on two different person’s shoulders. What makes it a cluster is the inter-connectedness with everyone, and a possibility to easily navigate from one person to another and meet everyone in the cluster.

Once the physical positioning is done, the facilitator invites participants to give two or three complements to the ones standing next to them. Placing one hand on the complimentee’s shoulder and looking into his/her eyes is a must. The compliment could be about anything; let it be genuine and honest. In case an explanation is asked, it should be given. Surely, it should not hurt. And everyone gives and receives. Once your compliment exchange is done with one person, leave his/her shoulder gently and move to the next person. Maintain the cluster as in a single unit, do not break it.

70378252_1434392426723355_7213673937597628416_nIf you are working in a touch-sensitive context, you’d better avoid mixing and make two separate groups, for effectiveness. It is also likely that you do this in a group where the members are completely new to each other and hence hesitate to compliment for they don’t know much. Encourage them to speak whatever their heart tells them positively about another person. Mostly, it works and connects. People often get useful insight about what strangers think about them and it can help. On the other hand, when members know each other well, it again creates sweet bonds and eases tensions. Think what do you feel when somebody gives you an honest compliment looking at your eyes, holding your shoulder? In a culture that badly lacks genuine appreciation, we often underestimate the power of an honest compliment: it might help you understand yourself better, it might boost your confidence, it might heal, it might turn a life around. Of course, no flattery allowed.

70713607_1434392693389995_4137889574502268928_oThis is a basic approach to Compliment Cluster and it may evolve to deeper possibilities. Facilitate democratically and respect the choices of participants, always.

The photographs are from a training session for I-Lab volunteers, Calicut. I-Lab is a non-profit organisation working mainly with the kids of Payyanakkal coastal village, near Calicut.

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