By Mary Hunt Webb

Posted Saturday, July 23, 2011

At one time or another, each of us has a tough day. When that happens to you, things might be so bad that you are tempted to have a pity party. Imagine that in the middle of thinking, “Poor me,” someone comes along and says, “You look great today!”

Do you stare at that person with a look that says, “Are you kidding?”

A photo of a gray cat with a serious expression.

      Did I hear you correctly? [Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net]

Do you say, “Are you serious?”

Perhaps you are tempted to confess all and say, “I’m having a bad day!”

Or, do you pull yourself together, smile, and say, “Thank you”?

If you gave one of the first three responses, you are unlikely to receive another compliment. That’s because you have just taught that person not to say nice things to you. You taught a negative lesson.

However, if you said, “Thank you,” you are likely to receive more compliments. You have just rewarded that person for making the effort to give you positive feedback.

I remember one time when I had difficulty saying, “Thank you.” It was an extremely hot summer with daily temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. To make matters worse, I was tutoring and teaching in a building that had only swamp coolers to cool the facility rather than regular air conditioners. It felt like I was working in an oven! As staff members, we had the mandate to dress professionally, but it was difficult when the swamp coolers were not keeping up with the heat.

To cope with the situation as well as with my budget, I made an emergency run to a thrift store and purchased several sleeveless dresses that I thought might meet ‘professional’ standards. I knew that I would probably only wear them for a few weeks until the temperatures dropped. Therefore, I reasoned that if those dresses became drenched in perspiration, I wouldn’t worry.

I was wearing one of my thrift-store wonders when a woman employee that I did not know very well said, “I envy you your wardrobe! You always look so neatly dressed!” She pointed to the mocha-colored dress with maroon trim that I was wearing and nodded, “I especially like that one!”

I was stunned! My first thought was, “You can’t be serious! This is second-hand!” However, I stopped myself so that I did not say what I thought.

Instead, I managed to smile as I said, “Thank you!”

That is all that any of us need to do when we receive a compliment. We appear gracious when we speak those words. When we do that, we are teaching the people around us to give us more compliments.

A photo of a rose and its reflection.

A compliment is like the gift of a rose. [Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net]

We appear ungracious when we shrug off a compliment without acknowledging the effort that someone made to give it to us. What’s worse, failure to properly receive a compliment reflects poor self-esteem. However, our words do not have to reflect how we feel because our feelings are not what the other person needs to hear. That person has given us a gift of kind words. What that person needs to hear is, “Thank you! I appreciate your kindness!”

How well do you receive the gift of a compliment? Think about what you are teaching others with the words you use. Accept a compliment with “Thank you” and a smile, and you will receive more kind words.

Such a response doesn’t cost anything, but its worth is priceless.

A photo of a smiling woman with black hair.

Thank you! I appreciate your kindness! [Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net]

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
         Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer
.” (New King James Version)

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