The Gift of Graciousness
The art of graciously receiving a compliment is just that-an art. Many people, adults and children, find themselves a little confused and intimidated by receiving a compliment. Their instincts are to downplay in an effort not to seem too egotistical or to over share in an effort to be grateful and deserving. Instead, they wind up totally missing the point of the compliment and potentially alienating the giver besides.
It's just not a moment that we are prepared for, socially speaking. We are much more comfortable handling criticisms in public than a simple compliment. This is partly because we are taught to expect criticisms more often and partly because we are taught not to think to highly of ourselves. A compliment always comes as a surprise.
Either way, one of the best skills to teach your child is the ability to receive any gift graciously-including a compliment–with a smile and a thank you.
How to Receive a Compliment
Receiving a compliment, though it may make you feel slightly embarrassed, is actually a very simple thing to do. All you need is the ability to accept the compliment at face value and be grateful for it. Here are the steps you should follow when you are complimented:
- Look the other person in the eye
- Say thank you
This lets the person know that you have received the compliment and are truly grateful for it. A compliment is often an invitation to conversation, as well as a gift, so it is perfectly all right to expand upon this formula if you'd like. Just make sure that you neither make it all about you nor denigrate the gift you have just been offered. It is not appropriate to respond to a compliment on your dress with flippancy like “This old thing?”
It is also not appropriate to respond to a compliment by launching into a detailed explanation of why you deserve it. Instead, keep the conversation slightly impersonal when you are accepting a compliment. Turn it back on the other person by saying something like, “That really means a lot coming from you.”
Teaching Your Child to Receive a Compliment
When it comes time to teach your child to receive a compliment graciously, focus on the three steps outlined above. This simple formula is one even a very young child can master with the right encouragement. Make time to practice it in the home, however, so that your child is prepared to say thank you as easily, as sincerely, and as winningly as possible when the time comes.
You may need to prompt them at first, but soon your child will be mastering the art of receiving a compliment. They will learn even more quickly if you can model the behavior for them when you receive compliments as well. You will have added another important life skill to their repertoire and everyone will be happy. You may even learn something yourself along the way.