It is surprising the number of people who are uncomfortable accepting compliments. Like any other, the ability to accept a compliment is a skill that can be learned and practiced until it becomes natural and comfortable. It is important for a person who wishes to accept a compliment with grace and poise to know the rules. They are as follows:
A compliment is the expression of a person's admiration and/or appreciation for something about you, that you have said, done, are wearing, etc. Most compliments are sincere. There are some compliments that are not, but it is not the responsibility of the person being complimented to examine the motives of the those giving the compliment. (Remember, you can only be responsible for your own words and actions, not for those of another.)
It is polite to accept a complement whether or not you agree with it. Therefore, when complimented, do not deny the compliment. To do so is to dishonor and insult the person who is bestowing the compliment. Do not argue with the person giving the compliment. Even if you disagree, the correct minimum response is a swift smile and a warm and sincere "Thank you!"
A "Why thank you!" warmly given, is an appropriate response to most any compliment. It can be helpful to view an compliment as an impromptu gift. An unaccepted compliment makes the giver feel vulnerable and embarrassed, so remember, that it's not "all about you" even though you may be the one receiving the compliment. Consider the feelings of the giver as important as your own. Accept the compliment in the spirit in which it is given.
Sometimes a compliment takes us by surprise and spins us into a little self absorbed whirl for a minute or two. Sometimes a compliment feels so good that we want to hear more. Resist the temptation to fish for more. Thank the person, sincerely, return the compliment if you can, and move on.
Often in our desire to appear humble and modest, we discount and downplay a compliment. For example, if someone says, "Wow, I love that dress!" it is not necessary for you to inform them you purchased it at a thrift store for three dollars. Likewise, if you're congratulated for an achievement, it isn't necessary to inform the compliment's giver of how easy the degree was to earn. Keep it simple and sincere. Smile and say thank you, and move on!
Like any skill, our comfort level increases as we become used to accepting compliments. So a word to the wise: never take them for granted. Even long after you routinely and comfortably accept compliments that are your due, work to remain cognizant that you are not entitled, and that it took the giver time, energy and purpose to pay you that compliment. Never take a compliment for granted. And try and make an effort to give at least as many as you get!
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