Monday, June 24, 2013

The Art of Accepting a Compliment

My mother was very particular in teaching me how to take a compliment when I was a kid. She explained over the years, "When someone compliments you, you smile and say thank you. That's it. Don't make a big production. Don't say it's nothing. Don't cut yourself down, saying it's not true. Don't punish the other person for enjoying something you've done or a quality you have. Celebrate with them by smiling and saying thank you. Even if you feel uncertain, even if you don't see what they see in you. Never make people feel badly for praising you, it's a kindness, and praise others genuinely as often as you can."

Now as an adult, I see people struggle with this all the time and it bums me out. Especially women, who seem to react to a compliment like a vampire to the sun, hissing and turning away.


I bet this guy accepts compliments LIKE A BOSS.

I am really grateful my Mom covered compliments in her parenting lessons. I believe it not only gave me a polite way to deal with that slightly uncomfortable "Aw, shucks" pang, but it also grew my confidence. Forcing me to accept compliments forced me to appreciate what I could do, take stock in it, and thank others for appreciating it too. It made a huge difference in my life, when you think about all the creative endeavors I pursue.

I have been thinking a lot about the lessons Mom has instilled in me, as I prepare to pass on her work to Luke. I thought I would share the one on compliments and what it has meant to me here. Especially for any creative folks following my blog. Accepting praise will be a very important exercise if you plan to show others your work. 

If you're a person who is shy about compliments, try simply thanking someone with a smile the next time you are told something nice about yourself.

"Thank you."

"Why, thank you."


"Hey! Thank you!"

Even if it feels strange at first, the greater ease of the exchange might win you over. (It's exhausting when you try to compliment someone and it turns into a 3-5 minute back and forth of "really... No really." Gritted teeth "NO REALLY.")

You deserve compliments. You deserve praise. And you should be the last person to cut yourself to pieces (ladies). And even if you don't believe that every day, no one needs to wade through your insecurities on the road to  kindness. A humble smile and a genuine thank you is as good for you as it is the other person. It forces you to accept their argument that you are good, rather than enforce your argument that you are bad. (Again... Ladies. This link is very NSFW, but hilariously illustrates my point).

But what if the compliment isn't genuine, you may ask? Don't worry. Mom had that covered too. "Smile and thank them anyway. It'll drive them nuts."

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