Why You Should Never Turn Down a Compliment
A compliment is the easiest gift you can give someone, and, when sincere, the most validating and beautiful to the soul.
A few Sundays ago I saw a woman sitting in a chair in the hallway at church. I didn’t know her. She wasn’t in my congregation. She was a bit older, and very beautiful, so I told her as much. She teared up and said, “You just made my day!” We talked for a few minutes, I learned her name and a few other details about her, and gave her a few more genuine compliments. We both left the brief conversation smiling. I had been having a rough day, but as I forgot about myself and focused on this women, even for those few minutes, I was lifted myself. How cool is that? And it was so simple. I saw something good and commented on it positively. It’s so simple!
I used to never say thank you when someone complimented me. I felt like they were lying. This is purely because I had a horrible self-image, but I have learned otherwise. Here are a few things I’ve learned about compliments.
- A compliment is a gift from one person to another. When you deflect a compliment you are essentially throwing that gift back in the giver’s face. To accept a compliment isn’t an act of egotism; it’s an act of grace. No one is asking you to say ‘yes, I know.’ A simple “thank you” is the most gracious and confidence-building thing a person can say when confronted with the gift of a compliment.
- Acknowledging a compliment with a simple ‘thank you’ is an act of acceptance, to both of you and the giver. You are affirming your offering and value and validating their belief–which is a way of saying ‘I accept you and your words’. Again, this is not egotism; it’s a form of grace to all participating.
- Politely saying thank you gives other people permission to follow your example. Like it or not, people are watching all the time, especially our children. If we say anything derogatory in return to a compliment we teach others to do the same. You never know who admires you and emulates your actions.
- Accepting a compliment is a great way to practice charity. I’m not talking pity. I’m talking about the pure-love-of-Christ kind of charity. To love yourself enough to admit that what you have to offer is enough is charity in action. If you can’t do this with yourself how can you ever genuinely do it with others?
Once I realized these things I started accepting compliments, and I have for years. It was really hard and first. I said thank you, but felt like such a liar because I didn’t agree with their opinion or praise. But the idea isn’t necessarily to agree as much as it is to come to a place where you are comfortable with your offering, even when you’re not on top of your game, and still say ‘thank you’.
I recently received a very public compliment after a performance. It wasn’t even my best performance so their appreciation took me by surprise! I nodded my head and swished my hand like I was swatting the praise away, but it wasn’t because I felt I was lacking–it was because I truly wanted the praise to go to God. I realized after, when a dear friend brought it to my attention, that I didn’t properly acknowledge the audience’s gift, and that I need to accept that appreciation in future circumstances. Even if we feel a compliment is misplaced we can still acknowledge it and accept it graciously. There is always more to learn and practice!
So, let’s be kind to ourselves and others and say ‘thank you’ when we are acknowledged in positive ways.