Some musings on how to accept compliments.

These days, I am far better at receiving compliments than I used to be. It is not a skill that I have perfected yet, but it certainly far better than it has been. With that in mind, I thought I would share my perspective on the matter.




On Compliments.


The problem with being given a compliment is largely one of security of self - our self.

We worry about what the other person might want from us. We worry about what that person is trying to do to us. Manipulate? Curry favour? Gain advantage, or power over us?  

We worry about the intrusion of a compliment into our self perception. What does it mean? Is that true? About me? It is something we fear steps inside our defences and unsettles our perception of self.

We focus overly on the other person. Who are they? What do they want? Why are they saying these things?

And through all of this, we are largely looking in the wrong place.


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Ultimately, most of us wish to be the best person we can be. When a compliment is given, this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that quality of greatness that is available to all of us: graciousness.

Any time someone offers you a compliment, regardless of their motivation, they offer you the chance to be gracious. Do not, for the moment, worry about the truth, the intent, the agenda, or the content of the words.

How often does someone give you the chance to be gracious?

For you to make someone feel like they did a good thing? To reinforce the idea that good deeds are rewarded? To see that even in the face of unscrupulous intent, you are the sort of person who rises above such things, and acts with grace. This is the true art of receiving compliments, it is understanding that you have been given the easiest of opportunities to do something worthwhile.

Do not fell that their compliment places you under obligation to say something  in return.  The acceptance of a compliment with graciousness, and authenticity is all that is required, and to respond with a compliment when it is not in your nature, or it was not on your mind  is to disrespect an honest compliment. (Of course, if it is in your nature to be complimentary, then you should not refrain from this either. It is the authenticity that brings integrity, it is the integrity that makes for genuine gratitude for which there is no substitute.)

So, for the moment, do not hear the words, they are for dealing with later, at your leisure, and when the person can gain no advantage over you in the moment.

Smile truly, because it is an easy gift, even on a dour day.

And be thankful for the opportunity they have given you, and accept their offer with grace.

You will have paid yourself a true compliment in doing so.








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Thank you to Mello for her story in this group which prompted this piece, and to JangusMc who well articulated the importance of compliments that come from the self.
TheTardyDodo TheTardyDodo
31-35, M
12 Responses Nov 14, 2007

well put.

Compliments can be overwhelming but they should be accepted graciously with a smile.<br />
Just think how you would feel if no one acknowledged you - be it an outfit, a talent, a personality trait etc.People extend compliments not because they have an ulterior motive but because they appreciate something they see on or in you - please accept graciously!<br />
On many occasions I dress to go to church, banquet etc and my spouse would just look at me and tell me goodbye - not a compliment, nothing! but by the time I get to my destination the compliments just keep coming and I wonder what have they seen that my spouse cannot see. Sometimes when I leave home I feel so depressed but that doesn't last for long as men and women alike compliment some thing I might be wearing. However, my spouse will easily compliment someone else- I however try to compliment my spouse on a regular basis.

Very well written and insightful.<br />
<br />
It is supposed to be a gift of happiness. So even a genuine smile is a better response than an unreal/dishonest verbal reply.<br />
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I am very used to thinking defensively, so unfortunately my first response is to do exactly that. Which is akin to slamming the door in someones face, metaphorically speaking.<br />
<br />
No wonder they look hurt. :I

Very well written and insightful.<br />
<br />
It is supposed to be a gift of happiness. So even a genuine smile is a better response than an unreal/dishonest verbal reply.<br />
<br />
I am very used to thinking defensively, so unfortunately my first response is to do exactly that. Which is akin to slamming the door in someones face, metaphorically speaking.<br />
<br />
No wonder they look hurt. :I

Words wonderfully put. It's exactly what's in my mind. Thank you so much.<br />
And I'd appreciate it very much if you could share your opinion on the art of receiving compliments in practical skills. If there's other ways to do it apart from replying simply "thank you".

Tardy, you were one of the first people to welcome me here and can always cheer me up with your silly nicknames for me!<br />
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Plus you seem to always be there for people when they need you and are very articulate when expressing your views.<br />
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Much love to the Dodo!<br />
TG x x x

i will first say that this was very good to go over again. i really appreciate this being here, and thank you for sharing your open ended yet circular thoughts. this is good. what follows here was me free forming in disjointed responses, partly responding to things you already said. and i read...<br />
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in accepting the truth of compliments:<br />
how about just celebrating the glory of yourself. how bout just enjoying your purity in personality. how bout being happy just cuz. how bout just being proud of your wonders and greatnesses. how bout not thinking too much. after tonite i know that this is all worth it. keep keeping on.<br />
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when a compliment or gratitude or lovingness, or all of that- is given to us, it is not only our responsibility to respond but to see and realize the other person at the other end. sometimes these things are given freely and with the intention of just speaking the truth and feeling good doing it. you, may be just the victim on the other end of appreciation and admiration. ooooh, scary!!! >:D<br />
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its important to realize the person on the other side of the compliment. when we are liked, admired, loved, whatever, its not just about us anymore.<br />
acceptance is the only true path into self love. just walk it. take the steps. and then jump when the terrain gives out before you. you already know you'll land and be ok on your feet.<br />
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why have defensive thinking with compliments, or with those that reach out to you, and give? you deny or cut yourself short?--you just cut yourself and everyone else off. <br />
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My friend gave me the most wonderful compliment today. she`s been my friend through struggles and strivations and she confessed her guilt in having a hand in leading me down an easy path. she knew i was better. but i willingly joined her. she... all i can say is i am very moved to have the kind of friend that would share her past guilt with me. and how her mistakes may have touched my life. this true friendship that loves.<br />
<br />
...and marji is right.

Tardy, You are one of the main reason's why I truly regard this site as I do. This "story" is one that should be printed out and placed in a scrap book (heard that suggestion here once and liked it). You show a depth and a reason I believe is far beyond your years here. I wish this could be shared in so many places, it so needs to be. Your story I think, cannot be improved on, your wisdom just oozes out of your very pores.

Thank you bluegeorgia! I would like to think that over the years, I have now reached a point where I can now graciously accept a compliment on most days, but it's a privilege to see that you're willing to make an exception on my behalf, regardless. :)

Tardy for a guy, your just wonderfrul. lol<br />
I don't tell many guys that, but sinse you don't know how to take compliments, i thought I'd make an exception this one time. : ) Have a great day.

Thank you, I think that many people in this group have also expressed their understandings well, and it was helpful to draw on that when writing this story. :)

You put that so well and it's exactly how I feel. <br />
Always uncomfortable whenever a compliment is given for reasons mentioned above.