While most of us like hearing compliments, not all of us feel comfortable receiving them. Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment many of us stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating. Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions.
There is, however, a lovely, simple and gracious way to deal with the situation: say ‘thank you’. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to expound, you don’t have to justify why, you just need to say thank you.
‘Job well done!’ ‘Thank you’
…not ‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’
‘You look gorgeous!’ ‘Thank you’
…not ‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’
‘Great presentation.’ ‘Thank you’
…not ‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’
When we make excuses and try to rationalise the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended. Keep in mind that people don’t have to say anything; so when they pay you a compliment, pay them the compliment of accepting it graciously.
My lovely friend Karen reminded me of this the other day when she sent me the following, out of the blue…and in doing so, she paid me a compliment (thank you, Karen):
“I once mentioned to Hilary that I found it very difficult to accept compliments. Every time anyone said something positive to me, about me I found myself denying it, justifying myself or making a joke. Which inevitably ruined the intent of the comment and sometimes made things awkward. Hilary looked at me and said, ‘All you have to do is say thank you’. Simple, obvious, brilliant. I trusted Hilary and tried it out, it works. In one sentence she solved what was becoming a regular stumbling block in my professional and personal interactions.”
And thank you to my mum, who taught it to me in the first place.