Meryl Streep on the Most Valuable Compliment You Can Give
The Academy Award winner says this type of praise is especially valuable to girls and young women.
There are very few actors that are quite as lauded as Meryl Streep. Her most recent role, as The Washington Post's first female publisher, the late Katharine Graham, has garnered her a 31st Golden Globe nomination, the most that any actor has received in the award show's 75-year history.
Earlier this month at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Streep, who is no stranger to acclaim for her work, shared the praise that meant the most to her. It was three words from her mother: "you are capable."
"My mother was a housewife, she played bridge all day. But she could have run the joint chiefs of staff. She was a really extraordinary person, and she never had the chance," Streep said. "But she said, 'Meryl, you are capable.' That's the highest compliment in the world."
She also spoke about how valuable that sort of praise is, especially for young women and girls as they develop their skills as leaders and internalize the unconscious societal mores that might make them feel that they are less than able to be in charge. "It's that little feeling you get when the pilot comes on in airplane, and it's a woman's voice," she said. "I feel thrilled -- but I can feel in the cabin there's a little shift, and we all clip our seat belts a little bit tighter."
If you want to empower your team -- or even give yourself a pep talk before launching into a big project or presentation -- simply acknowledging that they have what it takes to go the distance and thrive can lead to great things for everyone involved.