Giving and Receiving

November 17, 2007

Yesterday’s post about writing to American Soldiers in Walter Reed hospital, and an email I received about complimenting people who deserve it, got me to thinking about compliments, gratitude and appreciation. It always feels good to be paid a special compliment. I’m not talking about false flattery or butt kissing, I am talking about being paid a genuine compliment.

A number of years ago this concept was impressed upon me. Share compliments and accept them graciously. And so I attempt to pay a compliment every time one of those thoughts comes into my head. You know the kind I mean. You see someone or something that is striking, or someone does something nice and you notice.

While shopping in the store a lady may walk by wearing the prettiest dress. I will pass her, smile and say, what a pretty dress, I really like it! Often I will get a funny look and a hesitant thank you. At that I just smile and walk away. Sometimes the person will smile back (usually with a little bit of surprise) and say thank you and engage in idle chit-chat. But I know that I have someone that really “gets it” when she twirls around beaming and says Me too! I feel so good when I wear it.

It’s so easy to pay a compliment, but in our cynical world, too many people believe that if you are being nice you must want something. The old adage that flattery will get you anywhere has contributed to this notion. How sad. And I truly know how sad it is because I used to be one of those people! For every compliment paid, I would find a put down for myself. I feel that way now when someone compliments my most recent hair cut. Everyone else loves my short hair, but I just hate it! However I have learned to accept the compliment graciously and know that it is genuine even if it is something I don’t like. I’ve also learned not to assume that a compliment is a way to wheedle into a conversation or get into my good graces. I’m easy going, so a compliment is not necessary to do that!

And think about it. Even if someone is using flattery for their own purposes, they are not going to choose to compliment you on something that is unflattering! Wow, you have the biggest butt I’ve ever seen! is not going to get someone on my good side. But should they compliment my eyes, for example, I know they are choosing something they do appreciate. I say thank you and then deal with whatever comes next.

It all comes down to choice. How are you choosing to receive the compliment? If you are suspicious, the only person it hurts is you! But if you choose to receive the compliment with grace YOU feel good.

So, try this: whenever a complimentary thought comes into your head, share it! And if someone compliments you, smile and graciously say thank you.

See; that does feel good, doesn’t it?


One comment

  1. Cheryl,

    What a wonderful post! I feel (and felt) exactly as you do (and did). I often find myself thinking things I would like to say to the lady in the grocery store but I’m afraid the person will think I’m crazy. Well, what does it matter?! I should tell people I like somethinig about them or something they have done.
    Thanks so much for the insight – I needed that!


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