Give a Compliment, Take a Compliment

I stopped in a local restaurant a few weeks ago to pick up some take out (I was craving pineapple rice) and while I was making my selection, the hostess, who couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 years old, just came right out and gave me the best compliment. She said “You’re so pretty.” I was taken off guard at first, but then I smiled and accepted her compliment by responding “Thank you. You’re so sweet for saying that.”

After that, I didn’t see her again. She just disappeared. And I got to thinking maybe she was embarrassed for saying that to me. Then I realized how long it actually took me in my life to be able to take a compliment graciously. Let me explain.

Have you been complimented by someone only to dismiss the compliment? I bet you have.

“You look super cute in that hat.”

“Oh, thank you. I’m having a bad hair day.”

Or what about this one: “I love your dress!”

“Oh, thanks. I got it on sale.”

It’s like we just can’t say thank you. We have to explain away why we look cute or why we are wearing this brand or that brand. As if it is somehow a prideful or egocentric thing to just say thank you to someone who is giving you a compliment. It is not! I heard a talk once about being a gracious receiver of gifts and I believe the message is similar.

If someone has gone out of their way to get you something, no matter how small, receive the gift with grace and a “thank you.” When you tell them “oh, you shouldn’t have” or “you didn’t have to do that” or “I can’t accept this” you are judging their chosen way to show their appreciation to you. They could have given you a hug or just said “Thanks,” but they chose gift giving and you should be ready to accept it. Making those kinds of comments, though well-meaning, can bite back.

Compliments are the same. If someone is making themselves vulnerable enough to give you a compliment, accept it graciously. Do not attempt to explain it away or minimize what they are saying in an effort to keep them from somehow feeling bad about themselves. Accept it and be grateful. Part of the reason this is so hard is because we are not complimentary of ourselves, so we cannot see how someone else could be.

What I want to challenge you with today is to go out and give compliments to others. Don’t just go out and compliment people all willy-nilly, but if you see some shoes you like, or an outfit you like, or a beautiful person, or a hairstyle — TELL THE PERSON!

Then give yourself one compliment every day. It can be something small but compliment something you’ve done or how you look or one of your wonderful characteristics. And then when someone else compliments you, just say “thank you.”

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