Deb: I know very few people that can take a compliment well. It is a skill to be honed and one
Historically, my responses have been self-deprecating at best, self-loathing at worst.
“Gee, Deb, your hair looks nice” ... “Oh yeah, well you should have seen it before I washed it, it looked like a rats’ nest”.
“Deb, you look great in that outfit.” … “Yeah, well, thank God for the jacket, it hides a million sins.”
Yes, indeed, as you can see, I was the picture of grace. And worse than that, I realized that it makes the person who dispensed the compliment feel like an arse.
What is it about a compliment that makes us immediately self-conscious? Shouldn’t it have the opposite affect?
Why does my face go red and my palms sweaty?
I have always had the twisted idea that if I accept the compliment, it would look like I expected it. It would appear that I am fully aware of how charming, groomed, talented and well dressed I am. It’s like I am thinking, “Took you long enough to bloody well compliment me. I have been this fabulous for YEARS! I mean look at me! I am all that and a bag of chips!”
Accepting the compliment just seemed so narcissistic. I would receive a compliment and immediately I would be looking at the ground, so ashamed was I. I never wanted to be elevated above the other humans even if it is just for one second. I was so afraid that during the course of the compliment, the person bestowing it on me would discover that I am unworthy and snatch it back leaving me to stew in my own flop sweat. At any rate, I knew in my heart that this was totally illogical and counterproductive.
I was ASCARED OF COMPLIMENTS.
So why, I ask you, was I spending copious amounts of time choosing an outfit and doing my hair and makeup if my intention was not to look swell? Why was I working on my craft night and day if my intention was not to look like I was competent? Was I doing all this to look untalented and hideous? No, of course not.
When I was a kid we’d say, “That’s for me to know and for you to find out!” But as far as the compliment goes, I was employing the theory that, “It was for me to know and NOBODY to find out”. We all make efforts in our own ways to do and look our best. But for Godssake, don’t friggin’ tell me, I thought. Don’t you see that just WRECKS IT?????????????
We all do it. I have seen us out there shunning the compliment, disparaging the compliment. That is no way to treat a kindness, I thought. So I decided enough was enough. I cannot live in fear of the compliment. And neither can you.
I set out to learn the art of gracefully accepting a compliment. And I will share my knowledge with you. It’s not too tough.
It goes like this. “Thank you”.
Barbara: You speak to one of my own weaknesses here, oh Yoda/Deb (well, “Yoda” if you changed all the verb agreements: Take compliments I cannot. Give them I can. Feel good I do when accepting them. Accept them graciously more often I must.) (…or something…)
Anyway, I have also been trying to learn and stick to this 1-step program. “Thank you” is really remarkably easy when you get used to it. And simple. And quick.
And it’s so true that if someone is trying to say something nice to you and you let them, it’s clearly a win-win for all involved.
We’re funny creatures, aren’t we?!