Is it just me, or do people not know how to take a compliment?
Compliments should be easy. And yet they seem hard. Why is that?
This short article covers a basic and yet important conversation skill that if you lack, can make you come across as, well, socially stunted.
No one wants to be socially stunted, but unfortunately it's a thing.
And it's not necessarily your fault.
You see, we actually have never been taught how to take a compliment, and even worse, most of us are so self absorbed or stressed by all the deadlines and deliverables at work, we forget that sometimes we need to stop and give kudos and thanks!
Ok - why this article really matters. Because I know you're wondering.
This matters because how you receive a compliment is part of one important thing that you and only you can manage: YOUR PERSONAL BRAND.
Your personal brand is a thing that walks into a room before you do.
It's the thing that helps keep you employed, and in the good books of your boss or colleagues, who you need to function in an effective and healthy work environment.
Your personal brand brings you other important things too:
1. Respect - lose respect at work and things are going south quickly.
2. Trust - lose trust and well, your days are numbered.
So let's get straight to it, starting with a definition for compliments so we're all on the same page.
Compliment Definition: noun noun: compliment; plural noun: compliments /ˈkämpləmənt/
a polite expression of praise or admiration. "she paid me an enormous compliment"
"this rabbit has great hair" - is a compliment to both the rabbit, and her stylist.
And now, let's get right into an example:
Here's an example of what I mean on how NOT to take a compliment, from an actual experience I had with "Friend X."
Friend X is a great person but doesn't know how to take a compliment, which leaves me wondering if they actually know they are a great person or not. If they don't that's troubling in many ways.
Ok wait, "Friend X" is a distracting name, so instead, let's go with the name my mom actually wanted to give me when I was born, but thankfully my sister and dad talked her out of it, and that name is, drum roll please.... GEORGE.
Note: If your name is George, first I want to say, sorry for the above, and more importantly, I'm sorry that your name is George. I'm sure George is a great name and would have been for me too, eventually over time. More-so, there are plenty of Royalty named George, so George is an important name, and I'm definitely no royal, and therefore don't know what I'm talking about, that is, except when it comes to one thing ... and that's how to receive a compliment.
Back to our story...
So, a little while back I was sitting with George thanking him (or her) for their help.
Note: compliments can also be sent via email!
George did a great job in assisting me with a task that was completed quickly, and with the upmost care. George was busy with other deliverables at the time, but worked late to help get things done.
So I gave George a compliment. Thanking him for the great work they did in general, and specifically calling out how helpful and appreciative I was in the action they just completed for me.
George's boss was in attendance so I really wanted to make sure they heard this too.
Unfortunately though, George, for all his great work, didn't realize he was doing anything special.
And he let me know it.
This is near exactly what George said:
"Oh, I didn't do anything special. I was just doing my job. It wasn't that great. I help lots of people with requests like this. It doesn't bother me. I just wish I'd get more notice next time."
Wow. What just happened there?
Ok let's do a quick breakdown of what George really just said:
- "I'm not worthy of your compliment."
- "What I do doesn't really matter."
- "I'm not special."
- "I'm only doing what I have to do because they pay me."
- "I'm not great."
- "I'm annoyed with people, life, my job, or all of the above."
- "I didn't like how you sent me the request, but instead of
constructively discussing it with you, I'm throwing it into this
conversation, which should have been a pleasant one."
- "I lack perspective in how I'm about to be perceived by you, right now, and you're probably never going to want to work with me again."
Bingo on that last one.
What this means is that George, unfortunately, needed someone to talk to about something going on in his life. Something big from the past or from the present which may or may not relate to:
A hatred for his job
His secret Mafia business disguised as a garbage removal service in New Jersey. #IMissYouSopranos.
Or maybe something else - open to your ideas here. You can comment in this thread below if you're member.
So what is he best way to receive a compliment?
Easy - just say thank you. That's it. It's embarrassingly simple.
And if the person providing the compliment is someone you know, someone you've worked with, someone who played a part in your success, give them a bit of thanks back.
Tell them about something great they did too.
And while we're here - whats the best way to GIVE a compliment?
The First Part, Step 1: Actually remember to give someone positive feedback. Most people forget this first step.
Step 2: Be authentic. Be genuine in what you say. Don't start sending out brown nosing compliments once you finish reading this article. People will see through that.
Step 3: Be specific. What was it, they did for you? And why do you feel they went out of the way?
Step 4: Let their boss know. This goes a long way. Especially now, as most organizations still running during this pandemic are learning to work with less, and are asking people to do more.
In Conclusion - Be A Nice Human
Because unfortunately most of us don't get or give kudos as often as we deserve.
So if you're reading this now, and you can't remember the last time you sent anyone kudos or took a moment to give them a massive thank you - well, then you know what to do soon.
And you definitely now know what to say if, unexpectedly, you suddenly get a compliment yourself.
George, that means you too!
Thanks for reading.
-Goran (almost George) Yerkovich
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About the author - Goran Yerkovich is the founder of The-Inspired.com, an online magazine designed to help readers reach their personal goals. The-Inspired includes some of the best tools, tactics, and habits from the greatest minds of today and yesterday. Goran lives in the greater Vancouver area with his wife and two cats Kimchi and Kauai.