Monday, October 6, 2014

Dealing with compliments

Construction in the neighborhood has finished, and the new houses are filling up with new neighbors. I spent a pleasant evening chatting with one of them, with one minor quibble. She praised me to the skies: really, over the top, fulsome, praise.  I thanked her, but was incredibly embarrassed and uncomfortable about it. This woman had known me for all of an hour.  I like her, she's very sweet, but all I could think of is there some way to get her to stop?

Praise at work I can deal with. Work praise is specific and to the point. "You did a good job getting the tender together in such a short span of time." "We put the right person on the project." I'm not embarrassed by it. It is gratifying because I feel I've earned it.

"I can live for two months on a good compliment"
                                                  - Mark Twain

But praise for things I have no control over, particularly if I don't agree, tends to bother me. I had an argument with a boyfriend because he said I was beautiful, and I responded with "thank you." Apparently, that was the wrong answer, because he shot back with "Don't thank me." but what was I supposed to say? 

I was always taught to smile and say thank you when someone complimented me. Is there something else I should be doing?

I'm not saying that people shouldn't praise each other, we should probably do it more, but responding to compliments graciously is difficult, and I'll take any pointers that people want to share.

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