Sunday, September 03, 2006

Thank you...I think?

"Don't be humble...you're not that great"
-Golda Meir

Accepting compliments graciously can be hard sometimes. Accept one too readily and people will think you're overconfident. They might even resent you if they think you take compliments too nonchalantly. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who can't seem to deal with a compliment at all.
A: Oh, what nice cuticles you have!
B: What, you mean these? No, not really. I just chewed on them a lot today; that's why they look all neat and even.
A: I was referring to the cuticles on your toes.
B. Oh. (long silence) Thank you.
I think the best way to accept a compliment is to smile and say a sincere "thank you." Period. If you have something good to say about the person you're talking to at the moment, by all means say it. But don't pay someone a compliment if you don't mean it, if you're just going to do it for the sake of returning the "favor."

What does one do, however, when dealt with a left-handed compliment? You know, when somebody tells you something good and then follows up quickly (usually within the next breath) with a related comment that either makes you feel bad, or at least makes you stop feeling good about the compliment paid a nanosecond earlier. Should you say "thank you" anyway? Should you indulge in a fit of petty spite, lower yourself to that person's level, and pay him/her a left-handed compliment of your own? Did that person intend for the compliment to be left-handed in the first place? Ahh, the complexities of interpersonal communication sometimes.

I was watching a quiz show many, many years ago (I forget if it was Jeopardy! or Family Feud) with a schoolmate. Like Inamini, my mind holds a lot of useless fluff (read: trivia), which is only good for being an armchair contestant and imagining the money I might have won if I'd joined those damn quiz shows.

Anyway.

The quiz host asked the contestant to name at least three of Henry VIII's wives. And I, being a bit of a history buff, named all six of them (okay, okay, I was showing off a bit, I admit). And this schoolmate of mine says something like "Wow, you're a smart cookie." And then, faster than the speed of light, follows up with "But this show is a rerun." The implication, of course, being that I knew the answer only because I must've seen that particular episode before.

I don't remember what I said to that, or even if I said anything at all. I do know that the next person who pays me a left-handed compliment will get left- and right-hand-slapped back.


11 comments:

BionicBuddha said...

Great commentary...perhaps I have not received enough compliments to learn the proper technique ;)



www.bionicbuddha.com

Michael C said...

I agree with you completely. Thanks and nothing more should be the rule.

I have also been the recipient of back handed compliments. Again, I just say thanks and move on. If someone feels they need to belittle you politely, it's their issue, not mine! Have a great Sunday.

Lizza said...

Haha, Bionic Buddha! Even a sincere smile of appreciation is a compliment. And I'm giving you one now for stopping by. :-) Thanks!

Hi Michael. Words of wisdom indeed. I hope your day is going well.

Prometheus said...

Letting people peek into that bulge in his jacket, thereby discovering the loaded Desert Eagle .50 with the safety off helps them suddenly acquire the art of complimenting Prometheus. Simple solutions to complex problems.

Lizza said...

I admire your style, Prometheus. Simple, yet effective. :-)

Jessica said...

this is a good post...some people really can't take compliments!!! or the most hated--when they just shoot one back.
Julie, I love your shirt!
Thanks Jessica ummmm, (quick look up and down) I ummmm, love your ummm, pants!

Natalie said...

What a terd. Of course you could answer that question. Everyone knows it's Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Parr, Jane Seymore, and Catherine Howard. Duh. (ok hope the intended humor in that came out. Much can be lost in writing)

JR's Thumbprints said...

In the correctional facility where I work, when a prisoner compliments me, I usually ask, "What do you want?"

Interesting insight into compliments and I hope I didn't scare you too much with my toady ways.

INAMINI said...

I'm left-handed, so I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. Should I work at being bi-handed, so I can at least possibly give a right-handed compliment? My mastery of useless knowledge doesn't address this situation.

terra shield said...

The other person is suffering from ' I can't take it that you're better than me' syndrome...

She/He/It deserves to be stuffed up a chimney :D

Lizza said...

Jessica: I know what you mean. Better not to say anything at all then. :-)

Natalie: Did you watch that game show episode too? (don't worry, I got the point you were making ;-) )

JR: Okay, now I'm not sure if you're a meanie at the correctional facility you work in, or if the inmates are just unusually nice.

Frogs/toads are bad enough, but belipsticked ones??? Gawd save me. :-D

Inamini: Darn it woman, now you got me thinking!

Terra: Haha! How will Santa get down the chimney this Christmas then? ;-) Oh, that's right. Most houses here don't have chimneys.