Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Thank You

This post is about two different kinds of thank yous.  The first one is to all of you whom I have met through blogging, you sweet, kind, warm and welcoming people, I love your unique personalities and your individual styles.  Thank you for welcoming me into this lovely community online, thank you for reading and leaving comments that warm my heart.  That includes my new e-mail friend D, who surprised and delighted me by communicating with me that way.

And then there is another kind of thank you.  It's the one I am still learning to say.  I was raised to have good manners and to be ladylike.  Being ladylike may no longer be in fashion, and I can't say it served me well when I was in high school, but good manners and a ladylike demeanour tend to be a large part of who and what I am.  It is my default mode and takes no effort, which is exactly what my mother was aiming for.  If I am in the rare circumstance where I feel shy, it can be mistaken for standoffishness when it is accompanied with what looks like To The Manor Born confidence.  So let me set the record straight.  I am far from perfect and do not think of myself as so.  In fact, if we meet and you pay me a compliment I am quite likely to fumble it.  This was the one thing my mother could not get properly instilled in  me.

For a long time if someone complimented me I would vociferously argue it.  Mum would tell me I must not do that as it was rude and I could not understand how that could be so.  How could it be rude to be modest?  For that is what my compliment denying tendency came from, an over-developed sense of modesty.  Compliments on my appearance are even more difficult to cope with because even worse than arrogance is vanity.  In my thinking, if someone told me I was pretty, to say thank you meant I agreed with them, which I didn't, and to agree would indicate I was vain.  And of course I was also assuming that the person  paying the complement was merely being nice, so it would be dangerous to take the compliment seriously.  I must not believe it in order to avoid being hurt and I must not indicate that I believe it in order to avoid appearing vain.   Clearly this is the work of an over-thinker.

It is often assumed that people who cannot accept compliments are actually fishing for more.

Betty:  Your hair looks great, Veronica.

Veronica:  Oh no, I haven't even washed it or brushed it or done anything!

Betty:  It looks amazing and even more so if you didn't have to do anything.

So is Veronica fishing  for more detailed compliments or is she now digging herself a hole where she has to try to cope with them as they evolve?  If she is me, it's the latter, but I suppose compliment seekers do exist.  I'm inclined to believe they aren't in the majority among compliment deniers though or that their methods are different.  I think compliment denying is more of a social awkwardness that needs to be repaired.  Especially since being perceived as fishing for more compliments is as bad as being thought vain!

The treatment plan for the chronic compliment denier is to help her understand what she is really doing.  Firstly, she is calling the complimenter deceived or an outright liar.  Neither is very nice.

Betty:  Your hair looks great, Veronica.

Veronica:  Are you  stupid/blind/without taste?  It's terrible.

Not nice.  Not what Veronica really wants to say. Especially if Veronica wants to be someone with good manners.  We don't have to concern ourselves with being ladylike, but good manners make the world a better place.  They are about having consideration for others.

Secondly, the compliment denier is putting the complimenter in an awkward position of having to defend the original compliment, having to say more and engage in a silly and trivial conversation.  The irony is that is something the compliment denier doesn't really enjoy anyhow.  And life is too short for inane conversations.

Betty:  Your hair looks great, Veronica.

Veronica:  Oh no, I didn't do anything to it and it's really a mess.

Betty:  I like the way it curls and it's thick and bouncy.  You'd never know you hadn't done anything.

Veronica:  I like your hair so much better.  It's so sleek and shiny, not like my hair which is so difficult to manage.

Betty: Mine takes hours of styling to get like this.  I envy how yours looks great so effortlessly.

Veronica:   Oh you really wouldn't want to have hair like mine; it's terrible.  


You really don't want to hear any more of that conversation, do you!  Such gibberish and nobody comes away from it feeling good.  A few brain cells are killed of and both Betty and Veronica have now established that they have terrible hair.

The compliment denying reform plan next calls for a change in thinking and in behaviour.   To accept the compliment is to compliment the other person in return, suggesting you have faith in their judgement, trust in their motives and appreciate the compliment but would rather discuss politics or philosophy or how to deal with the aphids infesting the roses than your physical appearance.  There are two options.

The first one looks simple, but will take some time to develop as a habit.

Betty:  Your hair looks great, Veronica.

Veronica:  Thanks., Betty (smile)  How is your house renovation/book club/martial arts training coming along?

Veronica can make a return compliment but risks looking insincere if she immediately offers one or if it is too vague.  My suggestion is that if Betty and Veronica are to engage in a conversation, Veronica should offer up a sincere compliment on something appropriate a bit later in the conversation.  If they are making quick comments as they pass each other somewhere, a simple thanks and a smile is all that is needed.

Intellectually I know all of this, but for me it is still a process of learning to apply it.  I'm getting better but have to fight my instincts   Writing this blog is helping because replying to comments people leave me is a little bit different from a face to face conversation.  I have more time to think about what I am saying and to remind myself that it really is okay to accept a compliment.  After all, when I give them I don't expect the receiver to argue back.  Like all cases for good manners, it's about putting yourself in the other person's place.  How do I expect someone to respond when I offer a compliment?  I should consider that and apply it to my own responses.


Gratutious cat photo...


Sophie has plenty of toys, as you can see, but she likes shoes best.  Her fur is beginning to accumulate on the carpet-time to vacuum!




34 comments:

  1. I think most of us have problems accepting a compliment. Like you I used to feel it was rude just to say thanks, like I thought I was great or something. I tend to say "thank you very much, that's so lovely of you, you've made my day" and reciprocate if its a woman - I'll just say "thank you" to most men - unless they are dressed really well or have a cool tattoo or something.
    Love Sophie playing with your shoe. She's got great taste.
    A little bird tells me it might be your birthday today - if I'm right then a massive Happy Birthday to you. Enjoy your day. Its a pleasure having you as a virtual pal. xxxxxx

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  2. Hugs to you and many thanks. Yes, it is my birthday. Eeek-47! I am 25 in my head. I like your compliment responses-colourful and tasteful just like you.
    xoxoxo

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    1. Happy birthday dear Shawna!!! You look v young for 47!! (How will she respond to my compliment!!!!)
      Nowadays, I TRY to do similarly to Vix: my general rejoinder is "That's a kind thing to say, thank you." But for years, I would be similar to Veronica and shuffle it off and deny and get caught in that endless cycle. Finally, someone said to me that it wad a bit rude and I should accept the compliment so i tried to change. Great, great pay here!!! X (p.s. I am 12 in my head!)

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    2. Thank you, Kezzie, what a lovely compliment. I think I was a bit of a disaster at 12 so I will avoid being 12 in my head. You have such a delightful sense of fun and happiness and I enjoy your lens on the world. Your version of 12 is quite delightful.
      xoxo

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  3. loooveeeee!!!!! :-D
    you did the post. and you did it great. i was half way on the palm tree reading the dialogs of veronica and betty ;-) you are such a talented girl! and you work on your compliment denier habit - thats so cool. why should we not think of ourself as great, beautiful, admirable??? i think humans are vain by nature, look at the elaborate stylings "primitive" tribes use to do. all that demure modesty is just made up by the calvinists - and the result: all dressed in dull black and no smiles.......
    one can be vain and be a good one. "the dose make the poison" - paracelsus (famous german doctor)

    is vix right about your birthday???? if: herzlichen glückwunsch zum geburtstag!
    xxoxoxoxoxo

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    1. I was delighted that you did a post with a thank you theme as well! Thank you for your sweet compliments about talent. (See I am graciously accepting them-lol) I have a very English background, despite being Canadian, and essentially an old fashioned English background. I was raised with a very strong sense of vanity as a sin and all evidence of it must be squashed. One must be demure, subdued, subtle, modest. In our little blog-social circle I am a sparrow amongst parrots, but believe me in my offline world I am the flambouyant one! I think you are right about human beings and those darn Calvinists. Probably Lutherans and Presbyterians too. I'll blame them all! LOL
      Yes, it is my birthday today and I reluctantly turn 47. In my head I am 25 though. Thank you for the birthday congratulations.
      xoxoxoxo

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  4. I can relate, as it took me years to accept compliments. I always fought them when the compliment happened in a group setting. Then of course, everyone would turn around and look at you. I always felt like disappearing. Over the years, I have learned to graciously say thank you and then use it as an opportunity to extend the conversation.

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    1. I think many people can relate and most are not fishing for more compliments That's why I wrote this. And I agree with you that it always felt even more awkward to me in a group setting. Like you, I have learned how to handle it but it took awhile. Thank you for sending me birthday wishes.
      xoxoxo

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  5. Shawna! Happy Birthday!!!!! I wish you a wonderful day filled with many sincere (I) compliments, warm words of friendship and love! I looked up yesterday - you started commenting on my blog in the beginning of March. It feels like ages now. I feel like we know each other for ages! I am glad that you are who you are! Kind, compassionate, fun, creative friend! Who thinks too much! :))) Forgive me my little teasing, OK? :)

    I read somewhere in a book (it might have been a book by Sophia Loren which I read when I was very very young) - when you receive a compliment, just say "thank you". I thought - wow, that is so simple and so true! I do it from that moment on. It actually helps to build confidence (which I lack of in some ways, like most people). Because yes, inside of you it just simple and bold acceptance - YES, I AM PRETTY (SMART/BEAUTIFUL/KIND/GOOD FRIEND etc). There is nothing vain about it. They taught us to be kind to others, but they forgot to teach to be kind to ourselves. So we need to reeducate ourselves just a little bit at a time.

    You are beautiful! Love you! :) xxxxxxxxx

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    1. LOL-I do not mind being teased. I tease the people I am most fond of so I tend to interpret gentle teasing as a sign of affection. I am used to being teased by the people who love me most.
      As always, you make a very good point, we are taught to be kind to others and not to ourselves. It is probably a feminist issue, some sort of suppression of women encouraged by male dominated religion. (opening up a can of worms here)

      You are a delight and it is a joy to call you a friend. It does indeed seem like more than a few months. Maybe that is because I talk/write so much I can make three months seem like six. ;-)

      Love and hugses!!
      xoxoxoxo

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  6. I am exactly the same when it comes to accepting compliments. I tend to brush them off and say, "Oh no, stop." But I am working on that and am instead just trying to say "Thank you!" and smile. It's hard though, especially for socially awkward people like me! And I read the above comment, so Happy Birthday! I hope you have an amazing day!

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    1. It really is hard at first but it gets easier. Thank you for the birthday wishes. I am having a lovely day and a lovely week even!
      xoxo

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  7. Happy Birthday!!! We are almost twinsies : ) My birthday is tomorrow. Scary!

    I used to be like that with compliments, but the older I get the fewer there are so I've learned to cherish them. Especially if it is from someone I don't know at all. I think they are a bit more genuine and not someone just trying to be nice.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  8. Oh...just realized I'm a year older than you ; ) I'll be 48 tomorrow. And in my head I'm 22 ; )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Thank you and Happy Birthday for you tomorrow in case I sleep through it. I share mine with Angelina Jolie, apparently. So if you are 22 in your head and I am 25 does that make me your mental big sister?
      I think you are right about compliments from strangers and I think I also tend to value the ones from women more than from men. Poor men, one always suspects their motives.
      xoxoxo

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    2. Further thoughts....I think perhaps compliments from friends might be a different type but no less valuable. Our friends love us and want to say nice things to us because they want to express that they see our value and our gifts. The compliments are more whole person oriented perhaps, and even saying 'that's a great dress and looks so pretty on you' means okay I'm your friend so it's a given that I always think you look great but that nice dress gives me an excuse and opportunity to say so.

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  9. Happy birthday, Shawna!
    I am another one who used to bat compliments away or react quite ungraciously to them. You're right to look at it from the point of view of the person giving the compliment - how awkward for them to have their kind words, rejected. A simple thank you is so easy, and if it's a stranger, I often add that I really appreciate them saying so. I still have a horrible habit, if anyone notices and compliments what I'm wearing, of telling them I bought it from a charity shop and how little it cost! Must stop that... Accepting compliments isn't about being vain or immodest, it's an interaction in which one person intends to make the other feel good, and why should any of us have a problem with that? xxx

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    1. Thank you, Curtise! I think I tend to add the "I bought it at the thrift shop" statement too but in my case I'm bragging. ;-) This is such a lovely community of women bloggers all making each other feel good with genuine caring and support. It's a very nice place to practice our compliment acceptances.
      xoxoxo

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  10. Great post Shawna. As a Maritimer... I was raised to be a bit suspicious of compliments. Thinking that people were just being gushy or fake. After all... getting too many compliments meant that we might think too highly of ourselves.
    I have sooo changed! And I can't tell you when that happened.
    The only compliments I am still suspicious of now come from sales people who tell me something that the mirror tells me is CLEARLY untrue! Akkk... hate that!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. LOL-yes I think it is wise to be mistrustful of that compliment most of the time. I suppose most changes like that happen slowly, so we don't know exactly when we shifted over. It was a gradual process for me and I'm still in the process really. I know how to respond properly and remember most of the time now but still feel a bit awkward and might fumble my response a bit.

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  11. Great post Shawna. Just before midnight in the Uk so still your birthday here so a Happy Birthday to you. xx

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    1. Thanks, Jayne! It's still my birthday here too-lol. But I'm on my way to bed.
      xoxo

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  12. YES ... I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one ... we clearly share the very same internal dialogue. I think it's all about self acceptance really ... something we slowly improve on as we get older.
    And on the subject of getting older ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY :0)
    xx

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    1. I like hitting nails, there is something very satisfying about it. I don't know that I will ever completely tame my inner dialogue but as you say, getting older does help with getting it under control somewhat. And maybe there is a little bit of 'I don't give a f***k if you think I"m vain'. ;-)
      Thanks for the birthday wishes!
      xoxoxo

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  13. I love this post. I finally learned to say that kind of thank you a few years back. It is still instinct to say something bad, though!! Also, if I remember correctly, it's your birthday today. Maybe I'm wrong, but I know it's close, at least!! If it's today, I hope you are having the best of days!

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    1. Thank you, I've had a wonderful day and it was made so in part by all my lovely bloggy friends leaving me such nice comments! I too have to bite my tongue and stop that instinct to say something negative and if I had to guess it's probably only in my forties that I finally became able to just say thank you. So now I'm 47 I should have had lots of practice!
      xoxo

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  14. I was taught from a young age by my wise mother to just say thank you. I wonder if our awkward acceptance of compliments comes from being in the spotlight. Oh no they're looking at me! I know mine are usually accompanied by blushes. I usually go the "I made this with old wool leftovers and got it from a thrift shop " route too! But as you say Shawna, that is usually bragging if I'm completely honest :-D Great post, my friend! Oops a compliment slipped in!

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    1. My mother tried to teach me but I didn't learn that one as well as I learned other things like ladylike sitting and saying How are you and I'm fine thank you etc. LOL- I like the 'I made this with old wool leftovers' but I can't usually boast that one. OH thanks for slipping in a compliment. I shall graciously accept it. ;-)

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  15. Happy Birthday Shawna!!! I hope you have an amazing day!!
    I think we all seem to be learning to deal with this issue! I am learning 'thank you, that's a really lovely thing to say' and as quickly as possible try and talk about them and get the focus off me (oooh that does make me uncomfortable, which is quite bizarre seeing I have a blog) anyhoo, stay fabulous! we adore ya! x x x

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    1. Thank you, Sandra! You always have such sweet words for me. I know exactly what you mean about how you want to take the focus off yourself and yet how does that make sense with having a blog. I think when we blog we are in control of what sort of focus is on us and that makes a difference.

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  16. Just after I read your post today, someone complimented my work and just as I was about to say "oh, its nothing" I remembered the conversation between Betty and Veronica and just said thank you. lol.

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    1. I'm glad Betty and Veronica are such good teachers! You always look gorgeous and dress yourself so well, so it's no wonder you have to deal with compliments!

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  17. This is actually a skill I have been working on over the past couple years (yes, it takes years for me to make this adjustment). I couldn't agree more, though, a compliment received and returned is much more interesting than a compliment denied… it is awkward and uncomfortable for both sides…

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    1. It takes a long time to change a habit. Isn't there some saying about how it takes 30 days. That would be thirty days of constant practise though. Keep practising! I am too and we'll get there soon.

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