Stop Swatting and Say Thank You

You did a great job on the project!
Well, it was a group effort.

Your hair looks great!
Oh, I actually need a haircut.

I like your shirt.
This old thing? I’ve had it since high school.

I’ve done this…a lot lately. At a recent party, a colleague told me that I “always look cute,” and I responded by telling her not to get any closer because with the excessive heat, I didn’t smell that cute. It was an awkward moment for everyone within earshot. I felt terrible and she was clearly uncomfortable. What just happened? So much for my skills as a motivational speaker.

Has this ever happened to you? You know — someone gives you a compliment and you swat it away? Or you give a quick compliment back to take the spotlight off you and prove the complimenter is in the wrong?

Why do we do this? To appear humble? Give me a break! If I say “thank you,” will I really look like a conceited jerk? I think about golfing with my hottie engineer hubby. When I tell him, “Great shot,” he never responds with, “It was just lucky.” He says thanks. And, it feels good for both of us.

A compliment is a gift. Lord knows we could all use more positivity in our lives, so why push it away? Could you see yourself rejecting a physical gift that someone handed you? Of course not! You wouldn’t want to be rude to the gift giver, right? Right. You would say thank you and go on your way — even if it was a gift you didn’t want or didn’t think you deserved.

By accepting a compliment, you convey to the other person that you trust their judgment. So next time you get one, instead of deflecting it, focus on receiving the compliment without judging the content. Practice saying, “THANK YOU” with a big smile, and accept the gift with grace. Trust me: everyone will be happier.

So, give compliments freely. Accept them gratefully. As for me, next time I promise to keep the secret of my Secret not working, to myself.

  1. When I used to do group therapy with delinquent kids, I noticed they were completely unable to accept compliments and to think anything good about themselves. I used to hold groups where each person, including me, would get in the middle of the group and would turn to look directly at a member on the outside circle. The person on the outside circle was to give a compliment to the one in the middle (had to be real – no “i like your shoes”) and the person in the middle could not respond in any other way other than to say “thank you.” It was extremely difficult to be the one in the middle – my face was bright red and I was sweating and the kids said they were too. But I never had anyone come out of that exercise not smiling.

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