Taking a Compliment

I’ll bet everyone out there knows someone who is not sincere.   I looooath people like that – people who are hypocritical (say one thing but think the opposite), or who embellish or exaggerate the truth.
Recently, I heard a guy compliment a lady’s accent.  “That’s a cool accent, where are you from?”  She answered honestly and sincerely, “It’s not an accent, I have a speech impediment.”  The guy responded, “Oh, well, I think it’s kind of SEXY.” Strange exchange, but true story – I couldn’t make something like that up.
She was sincere in her response.  Was he?  We’ll never know, but it did get me to ponder the topic of Compliments.  When I give a compliment, it’s usually very sincere and heartfelt.  This meal is wonderful.  Your new haircut looks great.  You look nice today.  I love your outfit.    

(c) Geraktv

Look at yourself right now.  No need for a mirror, just look down at yourself.   What would you say if, this very second, I sincerely said to you “You look really nice.”    

Possible Answers:    

  1.  No I don’t.  I look horrible.
  2. Why thank you, I’m flattered.
  3. Thanks, but I got this outfit on the clearance rack for $5.99 years ago.
  4. Who, me?  Nah, you’re the one who looks nice.
  5. Awe honey, you’re so sweet, so do you, where did you get that purse, it’s just divine!

When I give compliments to my girlfriends, most often, I get response #1- negative backlash.  Coming in a close second is response #3 – sucker punch.   Both of those make me feel really bad, and I wish I hadn’t given the compliment at all.  When the compliment is turned on me (like #4 or #5) – counter-compliment, it’s usually dripping in insincerity.    

As a compliment receiver, I usually do #3.  Darn!  As a compliment giver, what I want to hear is #2.  Hearing #2 doesn’t deny what I’ve said, it doesn’t poo-poo my thoughts, it doesn’t disrespect my kindness.    

I obviously need to change my ways as a receiver.  The next time I’m given a sincere compliment, this is what I plan to do:  

  • Let the words sink in
  • Mentally and emotionally believe the compliment is true.
  • Respond positively, not negatively.
  • If I’m caught off guard, know that a simple “thank you” is enough.
  • Don’t mindlessly and immediately counter-compliment, but remember to return the kindness later, when I really mean it.  


The next time kind words are said to you…believe them…think about your response…pass along the kindness.     

How do you respond to compliments?  When you give compliments, are you sincere?   


Happy Labor Day Weekend

4 responses to this post.

  1. Well I used to do 3 or 4 and sometimes even 1 – YIKES! It wasn’t until about 5 years ago when Jeff told me that he was tired of giving me compliments and then me make him feel like he was lying. I was a little shocked by that and then he went on to say that when I replied to his compliment with a negative I was essentially implying that what he said wasn’t the truth. I blew it off until several months later realized he had not complimented me on anything for a very long time.

    It was hard work for me to change. However, I kept in mind to feel confident and appreciative.

    I now say #2 all the time. Even on days I feel like the compliment isn’t genuine (such as in a work setting where you’re never quite sure) I always say #2.


  2. Posted by Amy on September 6, 2010 at 2:43 am

    I LOVED this. This is so true. I am great at giving compliments and truly meaning them. I can and do find something beautiful in every person I meet. However, when it comes to myself, I cannot take a compliment, especially from a man. I try to figure out his angle. “What does he want from me?”

    The last two men I dated both said that I do not know how to take a compliment. They’d tell me I was beautiful and I’d totally dismiss them. I realized I did this and tried to understand why. In part it was learned. My mother does the same thing, and my father disliked any form of vanity. But mostly, I believe I do it because deep down I do not feel worthy of the compliment. I didn’t see myself as beautiful. It stems from lack of self esteem, perfectionism, and a warped self image. The person giving me a compliment couldn’t possibly feel “I” am beautiful. They must have another angle. The irony is that person who once thought I was beautiful starts to question himself based on my negative reaction, and the negative slowly becomes my reality. WOW!

    My southern girlfriends have taught me to take a compliment with grace, and I still struggle with it, but I am becoming better. Whether or not I am perfectly put together or fit into my skinny jeans, I know one thing is true about me; I have a soft and loving heart, and there is nothing more tender and beautiful. Likewise, there is nothing uglier than a perfect 10 who is ugly on the inside. Our bodies fade, our riches dwindle, but our spirit is that which truly identifies us and shines through.

    “I am beautiful! Thank you so much!”


  3. Several years ago I was given wise advice from a very unlikely source. I was sitting around with some guy friends and we were talking about something, but complimenting others came up. They told us that the one thing they hated was when we (my friends and I) or any women is given a compliment and she disagrees with it. They said that they ( speaking for all men) wouldn’t bother to give us a compliment if they didn’t believe it to be true. So this has stuck with me for a long time and I think this is the only piece of advice I adimantly give to others.
    Whether a compliment is genuine or not if you take it as genuine and place that positivity in your life then you feel a little bit better than you did a few minutes before. So what do you say when someone compliments you? Thank you. or any variation on that.


  4. I used to belittle the compliments I got too but I have learned over time that the best response is thank you and when you are really feeling it….. thank you, it’s true!


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