Sunday, October 01, 2006


I am not very good at giving or receiving compliments.

When i receive a compliment, my first impulse is to explain in great detail to the complimentor why, exactly, they are wrong. And that is a really sucky reaction, designed to annoy the complimentor and ensure that they don't make THAT mistake again.

I don't do this out of false modesty. I feel realistic about myself and my abilities and talents. I am not the best in the world at anything, nor the worst. There are billions of us in the world (and we keep reproducing) so how many of us can be the best at anything?

Maybe i can hear my mother's voice in my head. She did not compliment me, and one of her frequent comments was "Are you fishing for a compliment?" One must never in any way appear to be asking for a compliment.

Giving compliments is also difficult for me. I spend time trying to talk myself out of it. They'll think i'm trying to suck up, they won't believe me, they've heard it before, i might annoy them. Will the recipient understand that i really mean it? I want to give more, but i don't want to be perceived as insincere. (As an aside, if you watch Project Runway, wasn't that scene where Vincent sucks up to the French designer AWFUL. I was squirming just watching it.)

This, annoying even to me, little exercise in self-consciousness has got to stop. I will practice giving compliments as i think them, and not concern myself with the reaction, over which i have no control. I will also just say "thank you" when i receive a compliment, and then SHUT UP.

To begin: I think you are some great readers and writers and i enjoy the conversations we have more than you know. I really mean that. I do!

(God, i am having a hard time leaving that last sentence up. What if you think i am pandering? See how i operate. Augghhh.)


LazyLazyMe said...

The problem with compliments is the way people throw them around like confetti.

Use them sparingly, they mean more.

Marshamlow said...

I act in a similar fashion upon recieving a compliment, glad I am not alone.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Are we the same person, Meno?:-) I also have a hard time just saying thank you to a compliment. I always end up telling a silly story about how I ended up wearing such a nice sweater or about how much grey hair my red hair color hides. I walk around thinking everybody I see is totally beautiful and perfect yet I seldom pay them a compliment. I just don't actually think about saying it out loud.

PS I am pretty good at accepting compliments about my work, however.

PPS. You have been very complimentary to me on my blog.

Karen Jacobs said...

*Thank you!*

That's for complimenting your readership, and also what my d-i-l once instructed me to say when complimented instead of my usual litany of contrary points.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Lazy town, that's for sure. Bring on the confetti and lets have a parade. I think it's nice to be the nice.

My husband is the kind of person who would do well behind enemy lines. He never gives more information than necessary. Although I often want to throttle him, I do also think of his example in cases like this. It makes it easy to remember just to say thank you, and to be succinct in giving compliments. Suppressing the blushing, that's the tricky part.

SUEB0B said...

I am learning about this, both about giving and receiving. I am trying to say "Thank you" sincerely and then stop right there before I get to the putting myself down part.

And I am giving more compliments. Why not? Might as well say something nice if you can.

thailandchani said...

I enjoy giving compliments, as long as they are sincere (which they always are, coming from me). When I take the time to notice, there is always something to compliment.

You write a very good blog!

Just take it, accept it and be quiet! LOL

Thailand Gal

urban-urchin said...

Vincent was a crazy ass kissing freak. Esp. when he was talking to Catherine Maladrino with his 'you're the most fascinating woman I have ever met. Are those your shoes? They turn me on.' Blech.

I tend to not be very gracious when receiving compliments. I am trying to be better about that.

meno said...

oh lazy, that's the best comment ever! (Sorry, just having you on a bit.) You are right, some people do throw them around like that, and it's gross. Trust me, i am not going to be that kind of complimentor. Oh, by the way, your hair looks fabulous today.

marsha, I think there might be some generational girl thing going on here too. I was taught not to think well of myself, or at least not to say it, because that is arrogant.

tracy, twins born of different mothers. Won't our parents be surprised? I actually really love your art. The colors vibrate through me. I don't say it as often as i think it because then everyday i would be leaving the same comment, but from the first time i went to your website, i wanted one. I will find a way someday to visit a gallery where you are showing. TAKE THAT!

kj, you're welcome. good job, your DIL knows whereof she speaks.

de, great line about the husband.

suebob, stopping at the "thank you" is an art that i am still working on, i so don't want someone to be disappointed when they learn "the truth", so i try and explain it to them. Dumb.

thailand gal, Thank you. (mmrmph..) but.. um. Thank you.

Mignon said...

I think one of things I've learned to do as a grown-up is to just smile and say "thank you" when someone pays me a genuine compliment. However, if in any way I think it might be undeserved, look out for the dissertation on why the giver was completely and unequivically wrong.

Josephine said...

I have a strong opinion about compliments.

I don't think a kind word should ever NOT be spoken. Kindness is holy to me, and one reason is because it is something that everyone has such a hard time with.

Another reason is because everyone, no matter what they tell you, at their core wants to be accepted, and more than that, they want to be liked.

I'm glad to hear that you want to try a different perspective on this. Kindness not only feels good to the reciever, it feels good to the giver, too.

By the way, I always look so forward to reading your posts, you have a lot of insight and a great sense of humor.

Bobealia... said...

I was going to tell you to just say "thanks", but you've got that covered. Try "Thanks - I love your shoes" if nothing else works.
By the way - I totally appreciate you too, and I love your shoes.

Mother of Invention said...

I do compliment people fairly readily but sometimes have to remind myself to share my thoughts with people. Being a teacher, it becomes second nature to praise and encourage all day long so maybe I'm more ready to do that with adults too.

I tend to put down compliments too but I should realize that some might think that you're putting them down when you don't accept. Insulting their taste perhaps? Anyway, I'm more aware of that now after reading this! THANKS for the nudge!!

Girlplustwo said...

so true. it is so difficult to stand in the face of your own success, and to drink deeply from it. i find it much easier being on the other side, sometimes fruitlessly so.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thank you, Meno. There I did it, just said thank you, no excuses. Ok, now I am blowing it...

Lynnea said...

Thanks! You did an excellent job leaving that sentence up there.

I'm with Josephine, I think all the kind words we think in our heads are always better given. Everyone wants to be appreciated, even they react contrary. The desire is still there, its part of being human.

And I think this is a great post to get people thinking, because I'm sure we all need more practice at giving and receiving compliments. I know I do.

meno said...

urban-urchin, he is gross. Ick. That is what i am afraid of looking like when i give a compliment. Smarmy.

mignon, a whole dissertatation! You're worse than i am.

josephine, I want to be you when i grow up. And thank you. :)

bo, Thank you, and your nails are fabulous.

mother, you're welcome!

jen, still working on that part of it myself.

tracy, you're welcome. Good job.

maggie, why, thank you, but really...oh shit. :) Better practice some more.

amusing said...

Vincent -- insane! Everything turns him on! His garbage dress? "It gets me off." Ick.

AM looking forward to the "gloves off" chat this Wednesday night when everyone comes back to bitch and complain. (And maybe there will be a few compliments? "Thank you!")

Me? I just say "oh, thanks" and sometimes even, "Yeah, isn't it great?" It's a good thing to model for the littler girls too.

Andrea Frazer said...

I will take the compliment and run with it. After all, I'm pretty fabulous!