Sunday, September 9, 2012

Accepting Compliments

Most of us have been taught to say "Thank you" when someone compliments us, but we all have times when we don't really want to accept a compliment.  Maybe someone compliments you on the new haircut that you hate.  Maybe someone praises you for working hard on something that you'd rather not be doing.  But when you just don't think that what you did was worthy of praise, you run the risk of hurting the feelings of the person who complimented you, because what they're complimenting you on might be a very big deal for them to accomplish, even if it's not for you.

When I began writing my first novel, I often brushed off my friends' compliments, saying that I should be much further along than I was.  But while I was consumed in what I was doing, I had forgotten what it meant to everyone else.  I may have been on page 100 at the beginning of the week and on page 104 by the end. So I'd be thinking, "I only wrote 4 pages this week," while everyone else was thinking, "I can't believe you wrote 104 pages!"  Looking back on it, I shouldn't have brushed off the compliments as if writing a book is no big deal.  Especially since I know what's it's like on the other side.

When my college classmates first mentioned getting As on tests and paper, I said, "Congratulations!" or "That's awesome!" But instead of saying thank you, people looked at me strangely, like I had just congratulated them for tying their shoelaces.  It made me feel really bad. Getting an A at the college level was a big deal for me, and my classmates' reactions told me that getting an A was nothing to celebrate - it was just the norm.

So now I try to accept compliments even if something was no sweat or wasn't my best work. Accepting a compliment doesn't mean that you have to be happy with less than your best - it means you appreciate that the person is happy for you and understand that what you did might be a very big deal to them.

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