How to Give and Receive a Compliment

Hard on yourself? Women tend to be so critical of themselves they can’t accept a graciously given compliment. I strongly suspect men are the same way but they are much more quiet about it. Why do we find it so easy to dismiss a compliment but take every mean or critical thing said about us to heart?

It always feels good when people have great things to say about us. A great compliment will make you glow inside until you start beating yourself down. You begin to wonder if this person wants something from you. Surely they couldn’t really be saying you are beautiful or smart or fun could they? What would possess a person to be nice? We wonder about ulterior motives. Are they messing with me? Are they laughing at me inside their head? A compliment ends up making us doubt ourselves from the inside out. It’s not supposed to be that way.

The last few compliments I’ve received included “You haven’t exactly been beaten with the ugly stick have you?” and “That is one of the best ideas I have heard in a long time”. Not bad right? What was my reply? I said straight back to them, “You seriously cannot be talking about me, but thanks!” I managed to disregard their compliments and still say thanks. I guess I’ve got it half right.

The proper way to accept a compliment is by simply saying “thank you”. Then you can even give one in return. It sounds deliciously simply yet many of us simply cannot do it. We must always downplay the words somehow to better fit our own image of ourselves. We toss off someone’s kind words almost as if we are afraid they are mocking us. Maybe we are afraid we will look like an egomaniac if we accept compliments graciously.

The truth is you can generally tell a real compliment from a snarky reply quite easily. Take the compliment with grace and then stop yourself. Don’t say “What? This old thing?” or “Oh please, my hair is a mess”. Leave behind the terrors of high school when you knew the cute, popular, yet very mean girl was trying to make a fool of you by telling you she loved your sweater. That girl is gone now and most likely hasn’t treated anyone that way since the day she graduated. If it feels like a real compliment, tell yourself they may be onto something instead of thinking “are they blind”? Accept what they have to say and try to take what they have said to heart. They may just be right no matter what you keep telling yourself.

Once you have mastered accepting compliments don’t forget to master giving them. Never give an insincere compliment. Even if the person you are talking to looks like they have been up for three days and haven’t seen a hairbrush in a month there is always something nice to be said. Do they have on great shoes? Do you like their car? Have they done something especially kind lately? Let them know and you may have just made their day.

When doling out compliments remember to keep it simple and honest. A man on a first date should say, “you are beautiful” with sincerity and while looking the woman directly in the eyes. Do it with confidence or the message becomes muddled and begins to see like a ploy to keep your attention. Even worse, it may sound like a line.

Honor yourself by accepting someone’s kind words and hold them close to yourself. Though you shouldn’t go about screaming, “you are smart, sexy and funny” to random strangers on the street, remember that a sincere compliment may make someone’s day. A simple compliment can encourage someone who is on the brink of giving up a vocation or interest to stick it out. It may also help them to stop doubting themselves and to hold their head a little higher. A few kind words can go a long way. You never know the power a few kind words can wield.

The people that may benefit the most from compliments are your children and any employees you may have. Quite often we get so caught up in life we forget what matters. We always seem to have time to tell our children what they are doing wrong or to let our employees know when a project was not what it should be. Make sure you take the time to let them know that you appreciate their good qualities.

Giving a true compliment can make you feel as good as knowing how to receive one. Knowing you said has made someone else happy has the wonderful effect of making you feel like a good person. What could be so bad about that?

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