A compliment is a gift, freely given, from one person to another. With just a few well-chosen words it’s possible to brighten someone else’s day.
So why do so many of us feel the need to bat compliments away, to thoughtlessly reject a kind gesture? Maybe we feel we don’t deserve a little bit of praise. Perhaps we’ve been taught that it’s big-headed to be listen to positive comments about ourselves. Or could it be that we suspect there’s an ulterior motive behind the compliment?
When my nephew was about four years old he had a lovely new coat. He loved it, looked very smart in it, and attracted the kind of comments cute children in nice clothes tend to get. You know the sort of thing I mean. Elderly ladies would come up to him saying, “Where did you get that lovely coat from?” or similar. I thought it would be fun to teach him to respond with a self-deprecating laugh and the words, “This old thing – I’ve had it for years.”
And it was fun – at the time. My nephew enjoyed saying it, the elderly ladies found it hilarious, and I felt that I’d had a tiny influence on the development of the next generation.
My nephew is now an adult, and fortunately has healthy self-esteem. He has the fashion-sense and personal style of a typical modern 20-something. Fortunately he also knows how to accept a compliment.
The trouble is, far too many of us haven’t learned this lesson. Someone tells us how good we look in something we’re wearing and we grimace while tossing a “Had it ages” back at them. Or we get excellent feedback on something we’ve done and work and just shrug it off with a “It was okay”.
When we do this, not only are we denying ourselves the pleasure of receiving praise, we’re also rejecting another person’s kindness. When someone hands you a beautifully wrapped package, do you toss it aside with a few muttered words? So why do that with the gift of a compliment?
Next time someone takes the trouble to say something nice to you, accept it graciously. Smile, thank them, and see how much better it makes you feel. And repay their kind gift by letting them feel good about brightening your day.
Did I mention how great you’re looking?