Monday, May 02, 2005

Paying Compliments

Many people do not know how to take a sincere compliment. Part of the problem may be that people do not receive compliments often enough to have practice gracefully accept them. Also, since they are rare, we wonder what it is the person wants from us. Is this really a compliment or am I just being buttered up? People also fear that accepting a compliment appears arrogant.

What do people do when they receive a compliment. A common response is to put yourself down. Consider the this common exchange:
You have a wonderful singing voice.
I was off key.
What follows is that the giver of the compliment feels the need to reinforce the compliment while the receiver feels the need to continue to put themselves down with each compliment so as to appear modest. The net result can be that both parties feel poorly with the exchange.

How to receive a compliment.
Simply say
Thank you, that was very kind of you to say.
Notice how the receiver does not appear immodest because they are thanking them for the nice words they said. The giver feels as though the compliment was accepted. This response also works if you are just being buttered up because it does not increase your own sense of self-importance.

How to give a compliment.
Give it in a way that allows for no argument. One way is to write it in a note. You can't argue with a note so there is no need for the receiver to defend their sense of modesty. Notes also work because they seem more sincere.

When I was looking for a birthday card the other day, I ran across some cards I hadn't noticed before. As you know, the greeting cards are divided into categories like Birthday, Mother's Day, Graduation, and so on. There is a section I hadn't really paid attention to called Encouragement. As I read through the cards, I discovered that the thoughts contained within these cards were the kind of things I wanted my sweetie to know but that she would feel the need to put herself down if I were to say them.

Next time you want to pay your sweetheart a compliment, consider taking the time to find a nice card and writing your thoughts. It will make your compliment that much more appreciated because of the time and effort spent in paying the compliment.
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