“I love your outfit! You look so pretty.”
“Oh this is from the clearance rack at TJ Maxx- I had nothing else to throw on.”
“You look really great- I love your hair and makeup.”
“Ugh, I can never get my hair to cooperate and my skin is so broken out…but thanks.”
Do these conversations sound familiar? As girls, we were somehow programmed to reject compliments while simultaneously finding ways to point out our flaws in a matter of seconds. Though we may actually feel flattered, we always somehow manage to try to convince the complimenter of their error. If you think about it, this really makes no sense. Why did you spend an hour watching makeup tutorials about covering up your problem area skin, buy new makeup, and then carefully apply it? Because you wanted to hide your blemishes, of course. Then why, after all of your time and preparation, do you negate your successful execution by pointing out that actually you do not have good skin after all, going back and forth until you’ve tried your best to convince the complimenter that she’s wrong.
The Importance of Accepting Compliments
Girls, we are a bit crazy.
If someone were to look you in the eye and give you a genuine compliment, you would probably squirm and feel incredibly uncomfortable. We need to remind ourselves and teach others that there is nothing to be embarrassed about when someone compliments you. This does not make you vain to accept it.
How to Accept a Compliment
Graciously accepting words of flattery may be easier said than done, but it is extremely important to practice.
- Thank you and nothing else: If you feel uncomfortable, fight the urge to refute the compliment, smile, and simply say “thank you” and nothing else. Often we follow up thank you with a “but” statement. If you don’t know what else to say, say thank you and leave it at that.
- Follow up statement: You could also follow it up with a simple “how nice of you to say” or “I appreciate you saying that.” See how easy that is?
- Offer more information: If you’re ready for more, you can offer additional, non self-deprecating information about the compliment. When someone compliments your presentation at work, say “thank you- I actually practiced in front of a mirror this morning.”
- Ask a follow up question: If someone praises your blog post, you can follow it up with “I appreciate you saying that; what particularly did you enjoy about it?”
The Art of Giving Compliments
As women, I think it’s important to remember manners and grace in an age where these traits are losing their value, especially in our society that seems to thrive off of criticism (especially of women through the media) and negativism. Similarly important is the art of giving compliments. When complimenting someone, follow these guidelines:
- Sincerity is key: only compliment someone when it’s genuine
- Act confidently: be confident in your flattery- look the person in the eye to convey sincerity
- Never give a backhanded compliment: We all know what these are. “You look great considering your age.” “You’re smarter than you look.” If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Side note: If you need help and encouragement to respond to a backhanded compliment with kindness, check out my advice here.
- Be specific: Instead of telling your friend that she’s a great friend, tell her how or why. “You’re a great listener” or “I really respect your honesty” specifically show her that you pay attention to her actions.
- Compliment the small stuff: You don’t have to wait for some life-changing event to occur to offer kind words to others. Do you like your waiter’s glasses? Does the cashier have a particularly pretty shade of lipstick? Take opportunities to compliment others, even strangers, on the small stuff.
Ready for a challenge? Take on the Compliment Challenge!
This week, I challenge you to compliment five people a day. Everyone needs compliments, and by complimenting others, not only will YOU feel fulfilled, but you’ll also give others a chance to practice receiving your kind words. Who can you compliment? Anyone! Consider the following:
- friends and loved ones
- mail person
- teachers, doctors, nurses
- waiters or waitresses; be sure to tell the manager, too
Post a comment about your experience with this challenge. Who did you compliment? How did they respond? How did you feel?