Last night I made a startling realization about myself. At least, it was startling to me. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection in the last few months. I’ve been talking to new people. Getting to know new people and letting new people get to know me in turn.
Some of these new people have been very complimentary of me lately. I’m a good dad. I’m a great man. I’m sweet. I’m a great writer. I kick ass. One person even referred to me as hot. Sure.
Here’s the thing. I don’t take compliments very well. They make me uncomfortable. I believe I’m a good dad. I’m not a great man, but I’m good enough. I have my faults. I guess I can be sweet at times. I think I’m a decent writer and I’ve got a few jokes. Do I kick ass? Yeah, I think I fully agree with that one. I definitely don’t think I’m hot, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This all occurred to me last night when I received one of these compliments. While I don’t completely agree with all the compliments I receive I don’t completely disagree with them either. So why do they make me so uncomfortable? When someone pays me a heartfelt compliment I’m immediately consumed with doubt and do my best to persuade this person that he or she is mistaken. I pretty much tell that person that he or she is wrong.
Why do they bother me so? Is it because I’m not used to getting them? Is it because I don’t want to seem arrogant by accepting them? I’m very confident in my strengths and well-aware of my weaknesses so I don’t believe it’s a confidence issue. And I don’t necessarily completely disagree with the compliments I’m receiving (except for the hot one), so what’s the deal?
Here is the part that’s really bothering me. It irritates the piss out of me when I compliment someone and they argue with me about it. I’m wrong. I don’t know what I’m talking about. And it just occurred to me that I’m guilty of the very thing that aggravates me so much. And I can’t even explain why I do it. It’s like reflex. I just subconsciously do it. Just like my leg kicks when the doctor hits my knee with that rubber hammer, my mouth spews out crap like, “No, not really,” when somebody tells me I’m sweet.
Last night, when I was told I was a great man I simply responded by saying, “thank you.” I didn’t necessarily agree that I’m great, but who am I to tell somebody their opinion is wrong? I was just glad I was able to stop myself from arguing with this person before me reflex kicked in.
This is something I need to work on, but I’m not sure how to attack it. What’s the proper way to accept a compliment? Simply saying “thank you” doesn’t seem appropriate. Or maybe it is. I obviously know nothing of compliment etiquette.
Audience participation time: Do you have trouble accepting compliments? If so, why do you think that is? If not, share your secret. Whichever way you answer, also enlighten me as to what you think the appropriate way to accept a compliment is.