Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is right around the corner. We spend Thanksgiving being thankful and at Christmas we give and receive. It’s important to hold onto gratitude all year long, but even though in your heart of hearts you are thankful and grateful, if you’re like me sometimes it’s hard to accept a gift or a compliment.
Yep, that’s totally me. If somehow I do manage to utter a “thank you” of any kind back, it’s almost always qualified with a disclaimer such as “I got it on sale” or “It only looks good because I just came from the hair salon.” Ugh! Are you with me?
Apparently I am not alone in this loss for words or becoming overly self-deprecating when good words come my way. Journalist Jeanne Wolf writes that accepting flattering words graciously is not only a skill, but an art and she says it’s time we all learn what to say in the face of admiration. Count me in!
There are generally three types of people when it comes to compliments: the humble, who despite good intentions, can sometimes come off as unappreciative; the confident who readily accepts accolades but might seem a bit cocky; and those in between the two. That person is our goal. But how do we get there? And what about those annoying people who are forever begging for compliments?
In a world full of superlatives where everyone gets a trophy and self-confidence is jacked up to the inth degree, sometimes it’s hard to even know if a compliment is sincere. Still, as “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series author Jack Canfield told “Town and Country” magazine, “A compliment is a gift and when someone gives us a gift they really want us to have it. If I give you a present and you give it back to me or you instantly give me another present to kind of make it all even, somehow there’s the sense that you never really received it.” Hmmmm….interesting.
So, think of compliments as gifts and acknowledge them much like you would a present. You wouldn’t reject a gift so don’t deflect praise. A simple “that’s very nice” or “you just made my day” is more than enough to show your appreciation, and leave it at that. Remember to be personal and try to be original. If this is challenging for you, practice comfortable expressions of gratitude that fit your personality.
It’s not only what you say that matters, but how you say it. Your facial expression, body language, and tone of voice all give credence to your “thank you’s.”
Keep in mind too that praise is not all about you. When someone compliments you, it says a lot about them too. If sincere, that person is demonstrating respect and admiration by taking the time to say something nice to you. Don’t brush it off or appear entitled.
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.”
Booker T. Washington.
Yes, compliments are complicated but genuine admiration and accolades are to be appreciated at the highest levels. At the same time, maybe it’s time you turn the tables and work on giving more compliments. When you do, be specific, sincere, and do so face-to-face whenever possible. Everyone loves a compliment whether they’re good at receiving them or not. The art of complimenting is a two-sided painting. Start practicing today!