Thursday, August 11, 2011

Accepting compliments

While not many people particularly enjoy receiving negative criticism, it seems to me that is it quite common for people to have difficulty accepting compliments. On the face of it, compliments are an expression of someone else's appreciation and respect. You would think this is the sort of positive attention the most people would crave. In fact, things are more complicated.

Compliments often make the recipient uncomfortable. Sometimes people just don't want to be the centre of attention, and they feel uneasy knowing that the spotlight of scrutiny has been directed their way, even if the outcome was a positive reaction. Other people find it difficult to believe in the sincerity of the compliment. They start wondering what the compliment giver is trying to achieve through this gesture.

From the experience of myself and others, I have learned the following techniques for accepting compliments. First of all, assume that the compliment giver is expressing a genuine opinion. It is not worth speculating and developing all kinds of conspiracy theories about their possible motivation. Second, the best reaction is always "Thank you!". If you are being complimented on something you did or made, you can add "I'm glad you enjoyed it". Third, even if you feel that  the compliment might not be fully deserved, don't try to belittle yourself. To do this is to disagree with the compliment giver's opinion, and to reject a genuine positive comment. Finally, remember the compliments you receive, as they are useful feedback.

To be a giving person, you also have to know how to receive, since receiving something gracefully gives pleasure to the giver. You are actually giving them that pleasure when you accept praise. Practice giving compliments (only sincere ones!) to others, observing how they react, and how their reactions make you feel. Then reverse that lesson, and react to compliments you receive from others in a way that you know would give them pleasure.

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