Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saying "Thank You" For Compliments

A long time ago, I read something about always complimenting a person genuinely. For example, if you meet someone and you genuinely think they're shoes look good, then tell them. This will (probably) please the person and in turn, you'll get some happy vibes. Anyway, its all for the feel good factor. However, don't pick just anything and compliment the person falsely.

So I do that. I like complimenting people and I am always genuine about it.

The problem is that I'm terrible at accepting compliments. I know that the proper response would be a simple 'Thank You' but somehow, I feel the need to go on. I'm pretty sure there are many people out there like this too. Its as if receiving the compliment would somehow mean that you were a proud or boastful person.

For example....

... When we went for a trial Chinese class for Aaron, another parent remarked that Aaron was very well behaved and was concentrating very well. Immediately, I said that he was cheeky and it was only because the environment was unfamiliar that he was sitting and behaving.

... A lady passed me on the escalators and said that the sling I was carrying Adrian in was very pretty. I said "Thank you, its something simple for doing the shopping. Keeps my hands free." She was lucky her escalator was moving in the opposite direction and I couldn't continue any more.

... Old ladies often come up to say hello to Adrian and tell me what a beautiful baby he is. I have been known to point out that he's got drool all down his chin and snot around his nose. Why do I do that???

I always immediately kick myself and think 'Next time, "Thank You"'. Its hard. I wonder if it is to do with my upbringing. If so, I might be damning Aaron to the same fate. He has been (innocently) going around saying that he's clever. My fault for saying 'Clever Boy' over the past four years. And now, I'm probably confusing him because I have been telling him that he mustn't think of himself that way and he definitely must not be telling other people how smart he is. It is up to other people to decide if he's clever or not.

Yet, thats not quite right either because we all need some sort of self worth/confidence. How do you explain it to a four year old? If you feel you're clever, you can think it, but you can't say it. So maybe, it is here that the way we accept compliments gets screwed up. If you can't say you're clever, maybe you shouldn't admit to being clever even if somebody else says you are. Confusing!

Keep things simple. If somebody says something nice to you, just say "Thank You".


Mike said...

"Why do I do that???"

I know I've read something about this. If I run across it I'll send it to you. You can thank me later.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Compliments go a long way.

Monica Strobel said...

Many folks have trouble with "taking a compliment." Think about it we even say it like "taking a punch!" But the best thought I can give you to stop yourself from apologizing is, by accepting their compliment you are participating in it with them. By adding the negative, you are downplaying their comment. So give a gift to the complimenter and accept it! Also, when you shine, you give others the right to shine, too. So bask in the momentary glory (until your kids show their true side soon enough, right?!). Check out my website at
Love your thoughts!