I have a guest post over on Yes and Yes today on How to Give a Great Compliment. This is a little something on how to properly receive a compliment, which I find infinitely more scary.
Wanna know a secret, internet? While I may appear incredibly smooth, composed, hip and unbelievably likeable on the internet (humor me, people) the truth is that I am a hopelessly awkward weirdo. I can hold polite conversation well enough, but when I have to speak at length to people I don’t know well I get a little uneasy, I sweat, I blush and I have to remind myself to make eye contact and smile. I ramble, talking too fast. Sometimes I say things a little too bluntly and they come out sounding vaguely insulting. It’s a hot mess, but I try to be conscious of all of it and remember that my social graces are, and may always be, a work in progress.
But there’s one thing that is the bane of my social existence, that makes me recoil and squirm, eyes darting around frantically, looking for an exit. My kryptonite.
And I get them from time to time, because I’m smart and kind of fun to hang out with and not too terribly hard to look at. And I absolutely can’t handle them. Having a spotlight shone on me that way makes me want to curl up in the fetal position.
But I’m working on it, and although I’m not yet comfortable with compliments, I am getting better at not responding to them like a shifty sociopath. So here are some things that I’ve learned.
First of all, accept that they're sincere. While surely you’ll encounter a few backhanded compliments in your travels, most grown-ass people mean it when they give compliments. Assume good faith and take their compliments at face value. If they didn’t mean it, they wouldn’t say it. Knowing that...
Resist all urges to:
Belittle the feature or thing being complimented.“Oh, this dress is like 8 years old! And I got it at Goodwill! On sale! Look, there’s a hole in it!” No no no.
Deflect the compliment.“Oh, but really, Megan did all the work. I barely helped!” You can give your girl Megan credit and still keep some for yourself. There’s plenty to go around.
Claim it was luck.“Oh really, I was just at the right place at the right time. It could have been anybody!” Sure. But it wasn’t. It was you.
Deny it so they feel they have to argue with you.“Oh no, my act was terrible. I’m surprised I wasn’t booed offstage.” Shut uuuuuuuup.
So those are all the wrong reactions to a compliment. Stop doing them. It sounds simple, but that part is the absolutely hardest. The good news is, the right thing to say is much simpler.
Here it is. Are you ready for this?
Seriously. Throw all those excuses out the window and concentrate on perfecting the Thank You and Smile. Thank You and Smile. You are not a psycho if you actually need to do this in front of a mirror. For we socially awkward birds, this is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Practice it. Thank You and Smiiiiiiiiile.
“Thank you, that’s so nice of you to say.”
“Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.”
“Thank you, I really appreciate that.”
“Thank you, Megan helped too. Wasn’t she great?”
(bonus points for paying it forward!)
Your homebase is the Thank You. You may embellish the Thank You, but do not stray from the Thank You.
It is not required, nor expected of you, in any social situation that you should want to involve yourself in, to make excuses for your own wonderfulness or shirk responsibility for your own amazing accomplishments. Get ok with politely acknowledging that yes, you are awesome. Thank you.
Cute Thank You tags available here.