The Short Sell

Give me a compliment. Go ahead. I dare you!

Whatever the compliment might be – personal, professional, Ann-Margaret related – I can guarantee you that my response will be to point out every way in which you are CLEARLY mistaken.  All the while, my internal conversation is, “Just say ‘thank you,’ Jon Anne.  Normal people just say thank you.” (I like to imitate Normal from time to time.)

What I’m coming to believe, though, is that Normal is telling the complimenter that they are a moron – if only they knew, right?

Fred FlintstoneBy way of illustration, let me tell you about a conversation I was involved with.  I was talking with two women, one of whom complimented the second one’s cute sandals – and they really were cute. There was a boomerang compliment, then a confession of ugly feet. A beautiful woman with truly awe-inspiring hair and all she’s thinking about is her Fred Flintstone feet.  You want to know the saddest part of that? That’s is such a common reaction to a compliment!

Think about it for a second.  What was the last compliment you received? You look nice? What a beautiful smile you have? You’re so smart? You handled that situation beautifully?

Now, how did you respond?

Did you say “thank you?”  Or did you say something about how old your clothes were? Mention years of orthodontia? Confess the last bone-headed move you made? Point out how you could have handled it better? Did you sell yourself short?

I am so bad to sell myself short.  Do you do that?  I’ll bet you do.  Why do we do that?

It’s that stupid Less Than thing.  We are supposed to be modest.  Well, okay.  We can be modest without being Less Than, without being nothing.  We can accept a compliment without tearing the gift of it all apart.  We’re allowed to do that!

Just this week, a woman complimented my accomplishment of having lost weight.  It was right on the tip of my tongue to say, “But I gained some back.” I literally bit my lip to keep it in. So what if I gained some back? 1. That doesn’t mean I didn’t lose all that weight to begin with, and 2. I’ve lost some of The Great Regain, and 3. I am losing back down to where I want to be. I don’t remember all of the words that came tumbling out of my mouth; but, I can tell you that I did not thank her gracefully. In fact, I’m pretty sure she thought I was having some sort of verbal seizure when I finally stopped yammering.

Several posts ago, I challenged you to join me in offering a stranger a compliment. (I think that’s something we should all do every day.) Today, I’m challenging you to accept all compliments gracefully.

Join me in my own struggle to stop selling myself short.  Join me and just say “thank you.”


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