I think…many things, but as far as compliments are concerned I think that women have been taught to think that receiving a compliment, or praising ourselves for our talents, is arrogant or vain. Which is n.o.n.s.e.n.s.e. (unless you are being arrogant or vain, otherwise it’s just honesty!)
We are in a culture where giving compliments is a sign of affirmation and respect for our friends’ choices be it their hairstyle or how well-behaved their offspring are at lunch, yet we suck (yes, I am prone to using technical terminology) at receiving them for ourselves.
The paradox, however, is that while we’re so inept at, receiving compliments and instead bat them away before they can hit us, we are as quick to give them as we are to reject them. We feel so often that we *must* compliment a friend’s new haircut, or her outfit that day, or how well her kids sit and eat (ok, that one is an achievement given the fondness all kids under 5 seem to have for treating food as experiential art!). Blah blah blah. Sometimes we are LYING- I’m not going to lecture on why this bad (inauthenticity, lacking integrity, being untrustworthy, being insecure & dishonouring her/him, God, and yourself is the abridged version!), instead I’m just going to ask you to please think about WHY you compliment the way you do?
I am not ‘anti-complementing’: au contraire, I’m extremely generous with my praise and celebrate my friends’ talents and accomplishments of all sizes, often when they do not. What I am anti, is completing for the *sake of* complimenting. I’m saddened by what I see as complimenting without authenticity but from a place of insecurity or fear instead of love. Fear sounds like a strong word but it is not, I believe, an emotion reserved for horror movies but is instead, sadly, a driving force behind so many of our acts and words. Fear that our friend will ‘think’ we are rude if we don’t comment; fear that I we don’t compliment them they won’t compliment us.
So, realising this I now strive to only give authentic, accurate and helpful compliments which are honest: e.g. when I didn’t like my friends new hair colour I didn’t comment but when it came up (because she asked me – as we so often and uncomfortably do in our Facebook ‘LIKE’ this pic tendency) I said they’re not my colours but that I was so pleased she was getting with the colour scene. However, she’s confident enough in her stylistic choices not to cry about my politely and lovingly expressing a different opinion instead of saturating her in vanity-indulging lies! More often though, if I don’t like a friend’s outfit and compliments are being thrown around, I’ll instead compliment something I do like… complimenting a handbag or shoes or even eye-liner application is a) more meaningful and thoughtful b) honest.
I am still working at this-with another, less confident, friend I was too stumped when she asked if I thought she looked pretty (she looked like a street worker!) and I reflexively said a rather surprised and weak ‘yes’-oops! IF we stopped *asking* for compliments, or asked wanting a genuine answer then the compliments we’re given would be *true* and of more value-they’d be freely given not exacted by request and given by laws of politeness!
Well that’s enough about giving praise-as with meaningful sex, compliments are about giving and receiving…
With very few exceptions, the correct way to respond to a compliment is to accept it, as with any other gift, by saying: “Thank You”.
- It’s polite!
- It shows the person sharing their opinion that you respect their view (rather than saying ‘oh no I’m not’ or ‘oh no it’s rubbish’ etc. etc. etc.!!).
- It also encourages them to respect you and see you well (VERY important when dating! If s/he sees your hair as shiny and beautiful- for example- why oh why would you profess that it’s ‘just greasy’?! Duh!)
- Finally, it also encourages our own self-image to grow positively; as we start to RECEIVE the positive things people say of us, we allow them to be absorbed into ourselves and transform us from within so that we see what they see 🙂
And for your viewing pleasure-a hilariously truthful parody on compliments (strong language phobes beware!)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzlvDV3mpZw&list=FLoVj_9fbkKcWliBbHYnPy_g&index=6