Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why is thank you so hard to do?

I struggle with accepting compliments. Do you?

It sounds like a crazy problem to have, right? But I find that accepting personal compliments is something that makes me very uncomfortable. I often deflect with self-deprecating humor or brush off the compliment when I'm really very flattered. I just don't know how to deal with it. I don't want to sound arrogant or narcissistic. I don't want to seem desperate or surprised. I don't want to approach the situation in the wrong way. Help!

Case in point.  The other night, the fella said to me, "You're just such a sweet person, Tiffany." When I asked him if he found that to be an unusual trait and he responded that it was, I deflected with humor. "Ahh," I said, "my ruse must be working." And I laughed.  Why did I do that? I loved that compliment. It was sincere and thoughtful; I didn't doubt his motivation or anything. It was one of the best things he's ever said to me. Why couldn't I just say thank you and not feel weird?  Later in the evening, the fella said, "My sweet Tiffany," and I melted a little bit inside. But I couldn't acknowledge it because it felt too raw to do so.

Case in point. Every morning, I go to the Minit Mart and buy a giant fountain drink. It's the 'crack' that gets me through the day. I've been doing this for years, and the staff knows me to see me. I know them very casually, not anything about their families or their personal lives. On Thursday morning, one of the ladies saw me getting my drink as she cleaned up a spill and grabbed my hand to comment on my nail polish. "Oh look, I love that color on your nails." I laughed and said thanks. Then she said, "You look so pretty, but then you always do." And I didn't know what to say. Boy, was I uncomfortable. I responded, "You're so sweet to say that." Awkward.  Again, she seemed to be sincere, and I wanted to acknowledge her compliment, but it just felt strange.

Case in point.  Earlier this week, my bestie said in a text, "I'm spending Saturday with the best friend God ever gave anyone." How's that for an amazing compliment? But even with her, the person who knows so much about how I think and feel and the struggles I've faced, I thought, "Wow! I don't deserve that. What do I say?" I told her I loved her and couldn't wait for our weekend plans either, but it felt pale in comparison. I felt like I didn't truly thank her for an amazing compliment, but I couldn't find the words to adequately do so.

Case in point. Last weekend at my painting class, a complete stranger walked up to me as I was painting and said, "My friends and I have been admiring your painting from where we sit. It's amazing; great job!" I was stunned. I'm sooo not an artist in my own mind, but she went out of her way to come and compliment me. I didn't know what to say, so I chuckled and said thank you very quietly. I should've recognized her effort and compliment more fully. I should've struck up a conversation with her; I should've let her know how grateful I was for her kind words. See the cartoon below? Yep, perfectly representative...

So what's the point of all this? I guess I just wanted a place to say thank you, a place to ask if other people struggle with compliments, a place to share what happened. How lucky am I that so many people compliment me on a regular basis? The thing is, I guess I feel undeserving of their kind words. Why do I feel that way? These people evidently care enough to spend their words on me. I'm so grateful for that, but I just don't know how to adequately express it.

Here are two goals I'd like to set in regards to this topic. First, I want to learn to accept compliments more graciously.  I don't want to be awkward and stumbling and seemingly unappreciative. I don't want to be narcissistic, but I also don't want to seem flummoxed. I want those who compliment me to know how very much it means to me. Second, I want to compliment others more; I want to be that person who lights someone up just a little bit from an unexpected, yet sincere compliment. Perhaps by giving more compliments, I'll be more comfortable with them in general. Perhaps by complimenting others more, I'll pay it forward in the universe. Good vibes result in good karma, right? In the coming week, I want to really work on this. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

What about you? How do you deal with compliments personally and how often do you compliment others? What kinds of compliments are you most likely to give?



  1. I think it's normal to feel awkward receiving compliments. I feel that way, too, but I was taught to accept compliments graciously so that is what I try to do. It's a compliment to the person giving YOU the compliment that you are pleased with their gesture.

    Easier said than done, though. I know. I am a reserved person (and maybe you are, too), and the awkwardness stems from having attention directed at you, even though it's the good kind of attention. The most gracious you are, though, the easier it is to get through it.

  2. You are very reserved, Lisa makes a good point. I must say, this blog post kind of made me tear up because I want you to believe you are so fabulous that the world can't help but compliment you. You DO always look great - you ARE sweet - your painting WAS fabulous and you most definitely 100% ARE the greatest bestie God ever made! :) I am a complimenter myself and sometimes I do it out of awkwardness. How's that for weird? Sometimes when I don't know what to say to someone, I compliment them. That's probably true of a lot of people. It's a good ice breaker. But since I so freely give compliments, I am not taken aback when someone compliments me. The only time it gets weird is when I sing somewhere and 10 people come up at once and say something like, "You are the greatest harmony singer I've ever heard." (People have actually said that.) and I think, "Well you obviously don't get out much!!!!" But I say, "Oh thank you so much, that really means a lot to me." But I'm like you - I almost don't believe them! It's too much. So I can relate to how you feel on that level. Maybe you should do an experiment. Try to be in "super-compliment mode" all week and lavish praise on people and then see if you start feeling as if you're not taken aback every time someone unexpectedly brags on you! Let us know the results! :)

  3. Lisa and Tracie, you're both right. I think practicing giving compliments will help me learn to accept them a bit more graciously. I'm working on it!

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