18 May
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By    Comments Off on How to Not Take a Compliment

How to Not Take a Compliment

Ruth Lindsey compliment quote

It seems I have at least one child who hasn’t a clue on how to take a compliment. I was surrounded by 6th graders at a presentation and heard eight different children qualify compliments they were given. A simple, “You’re painting was lovely,” was met with “Thanks, but it’s trash.” Or “I didn’t work hard enough.” Or “There are better ones.” Not one of the eight children replied with a simple thank you. Even my son replied back to a classmate, “Thanks, but I should have taken more time.”

The word but is a troublemaker. I’m leery of the word in conversations. It’s a disjunctive conjunctive. If you tell me something and throw a but in, you’ve negated whatever came before the but. It’s possible my son should have taken more time on his painting or worked slower, but it still fulfilled the project goal and was insightful. See what I did there? The part before the but doesn’t matter. What matters in that sentence is that the work was visually pleasing.

I don’t notice our younger children receiving compliments with a dig at themselves. Possibly it’s the tween/teen age bracket that struggles with believing others see good in them and their work. I’m more attuned to what and how tweens/teens say or don’t say after a grief-filled March. I remember those moments of feeling worthless as a teen and know to an extent that those emotions are normal. It hurt my heart to hear eight students negate a compliment. It’s hard to say if they were embarrassed by kindness or believed what they said. I wanted to take each one by the shoulders and remind him/her that there’s always room for improvement, but it’s OK to see good in yourself and even better when someone else makes a point to compliment you.

It’s quite possible my son can’t take a compliment because I can’t either. I’m guilty of not being able to stop myself at thank you. I’ll qualify it with a but. I’m working on biting my tongue and accepting at face value kind words someone says about me or something I’ve done.

It doesn’t make you cocky or full of yourself to accept a compliment without also taking away from your efforts. It’s even wonderful to receive a compliment with a thank you and some positive words of your own for yourself. “Thank you. I worked hard on this.” Or “Thank you. This is my favorite project.” Or “Thank you. It turned out really well.”

I want to raise people who can see the good in themselves, their work and skills, and allow kind words to simply lift them, if only for a minute. We’ll start with banishing the qualifying but at our house.


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