Giving and Receiving Compliments

Do you have a hard time giving and/or receiving compliments? If so, you’re not alone. For millennia humans around the globe have had superstitions about the dangers of compliments. Acclaim might evoke envy and the ‘evil eye’ unless preceded by praise for God. In some cultures parents protected thoughtlessly praised children by spitting in their faces! Include contemporary confusion about whether compliments are signals for sexual ‘come-ons’ and you’ve added another layer of trepidation. The problem is in our post modern era compliments abound. Furthermore, when praise is lovingly and relationally delivered it actually supports self esteem.

Here’s the tip. Whenever you’re inspired to give a compliment, look inside to see what has moved you personally. Leading with “you look great” may unwittingly evoke a subtle cringe response. Instead try saying something like “I enjoy your sense of style”. Speaking from an “I” position invites connection and mitigates the sense of being judged or compared.

receiving complimentsIf receiving a compliment doesn’t feel good, check whether this is a pattern for you or just a response to an ungraceful delivery. In either case, take a breath and remember you are safe. It’s okay for your talents/beauty/brains to be seen. If the giver is an intimate, it’s also okay to reveal compliments are hard to receive. Being vulnerable in this way keeps hearts open. It’s a basic need to be seen and appreciated, but not to be singled out with only your uniqueness for company. Find a way in all compliments to stay connected with each other.

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