When we are children, some of the first things we learn are manners. Decades ago, we learned to “mind our Ps an Qs,” an expression that goes back a couple of centuries, and means to mind our manners. But it’s more than just saying “Please” and “Thank you.” There’s a give and take, and an opportunity to build ourselves and others.
Let’s take compliments. How well do you receive a compliment? People who have a healthy sense of self-esteem, and who are concerned about empowering themselves and others, know how to receive compliments that are well deserved and sincerely meant.
These folks respond in a way that is gracious and that enhances their own self-image, as well as that of the giver of the compliment. All too often, and you have seen this yourself, people turn away compliments with snappy comebacks to seem hip and glib, but amount to self put-downs and self-sabotage.
For example, you tell them they’ve done a good job, and they say they were “just lucky.” Or you tell them they’re wearing a great looking outfit, and they say “This old thing? You’ve got to be kidding!” Perhaps they are confusing humility with self-denigration – denying they had anything to do with the situation at hand. Keep in mind, these are learned responses and can be unlearned and replaced with something more generous and effective.
Now, let’s shift the perception for a moment: When you reject someone’s compliment, you are rejecting his or her loving support. Accepting a compliment is not only self-loving, but it also acknowledges the giver for her or his kindness. Believing in the giver’s intent, appreciating the compliment, shows respect not only for one’s self, but also for the giver’s opinion. It’s what’s known as a two-fer: gift given and gift reciprocated.
Now, if you’re still not sure how to respond, or feel uncomfortable in the moment, simply smile, maintain eye contact, and sincerely say, “Thank you!” It’s authentic, it’s true, and it gives you time to create your “gift reciprocated” response for the next time.