the importance of receiving compliments.

After Molly’s incredible piece on the importance of unusual compliments, I’ve been thinking about what compliments look like in my daily life. I try to say something nice to everyone I encounter in a day, and I don’t mean in a “I need to check off my compliment quota for the day” way, but in a “I genuinely like X about Y person” way. You know, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at giving unique compliments. I really do love people and I love that they’re different from me and I love to point out all the things I love about those people. Words of affirmation is my love language so I really get life out of expressing in words the things I appreciate about others.

However, there’s one small problem with this. I can give compliments all day, but I am absolutely dreadful at receiving compliments.

Is it just me? Or are you like this, too?

Friend: Oh, Lindsay, I love that shirt on you!
Me: Ew, really? I’ve had it for like, five years. There’s a giant stain on it. Gross.

Friend: Lindsay I love your hair today!
Me: Ugh, I slept all weird on it so I’ve been fighting with it all day.

Friend: Lindsay, you’re so fun to be around!
Me: Psh, you wouldn’t say that if you lived with me.

Somewhere along the line of my life I mistakenly began to assume that shooting down compliments was a way for me to appear humble and that gracefully accepting compliments was a way for me to look conceited and selfish.

But let’s break this down for a second. How would you feel if you were the friend in that scenario? Would you feel like I was being humble and sweet, or would you feel as though I was being completely self-absorbed by dismissing you and your opinion of me?

Source: Magh

A year or so ago I was in a women’s bible study small group and one of the ladies brought this up. She told a story about someone who always shot down compliments from her and it made her feel so insignificant. Naturally, she got angry, and stopped complimenting this person. Before she shared her story, I had never considered what other people thought when I’d refuse compliments. In my mind, I was being humble and right, so I didn’t really need to give the subject much thought. Upon hearing this woman’s story, I stopped and thought about how I would feel if someone did the same thing to me. I realized I would feel insulted. Wronged. Ignored. I would feel as though whomever I’d complimented assumed that I had no wits about me and that my words of affirmation meant nothing to them.

Ouch.

She summed up her testimony and really drove the point home when she said, “Ladies are polite; ladies say thank you.”

Be polite. Say thank you.

Source: Daniel Slaughter

As a woman of faith, I believe God does things in our lives each and every day to teach us and make us better. The woman in my bible study was definitely an example of that for me. But, of course, God doesn’t stop there. This morning, when I sat down to start writing this post about the importance of receiving compliments, my little Gmail tab lit up indicating a new message. It was one from my pastor. He said this:

I wanted to tell you how proud I was of you…

My skin began to crawl as I read the rest of his kind words. At the end of the email, I started to reply with something along the lines of, “Well, I’m still a big old mess and-” [backspacebackspacebackspace] “I’m nowhere near where I need to be-” [backspacebackspacebackspace] “That’s really nice of you but I’m-” [backspacebackspacebackspace]…

Then I remembered the blog post draft I had open in another Firefox tab.

The importance of receiving compliments.

Be polite.

My eyes filled with tears as I sheepishly, and truly humbly, typed a small and desperate, “Thank you.

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the importance of unusual compliments — guest post by molly ford

Molly Ford is a writer living in New York City. She has captured my heart as the brilliance behind one of my favorite blogs, Smart Pretty and Awkward. As someone who has always made ridiculous strides to be prettier, smarter, and less awkward, I’ve found help (and hope!) in each of Molly’s adorable SPA blog posts over time. She also appreciates Diet Coke just like myself. So make sure to check out SPA after you read her guest post on FBDC!

You’re pretty. I like your dress. I want your shoes.

Why are these the most common type of compliment young women give to one another?

While it is nice to hear that someone else besides you likes your outfit, it is only a momentary high. I much prefer the unusual compliments; the ones women never give other women except in long birthday letters when they reflect on their friendship. I want women to start praising, flattering, calling out the good stuff in other women on deeper topics than fashion choices. And I want them to start doing it out loud, to each other, within earshot of other women. Every day.

Since a very young age, I’ve been a reader of memoirs and self-help books. I love when successful, interesting people share advice drawn from their life experiences. In high school, I started a compliment box, an idea I got from one of these types of books.

I kept little note cards that each had a compliment I’d received that year. While I stopped the compliment box when I got to college, I came across it recently while cleaning out my childhood room. Flipping through the sections, I bypassed all the compliments on my eyes or my smile, which, while sweet, didn’t really tell me anything about me. I poured over the compliments on my schoolwork and my personality.

Compliments from others on your looks only reflect what the person looking at you can physically see. Compliments from others on intangible things reflect something more profound.

For girls and young women, it is valuable and vital to our self-esteem to hear validation from other women about our choices not related to fashion. We can all start today: working on praising others on their peacemaking skills; their ability to proof-read complicated documents quickly; or their willingness to major in a tough field. What we admire and respect in other women is not related to their style choices; it is something more. And we should tell them that.

You’re so good at mental math. You juggle your friends and your relationship so well. It makes me so proud to be your friend when I see your byline in the paper.

Courtesy: Ashley Poole Photography

While I enjoy wearing dresses, great heels, and getting my hair done, the best compliment I’ve gotten this year was when someone very special to me said simply, “You’re the funniest girl I’ve ever known, and will probably ever know.”

That’s the kind of compliment I’ll remember for months or even years. I might even have to resurrect my compliment box for the occasion.