The Art of Receiving a Compliment


A classic scene from the girly classic Mean Girls. How are we to give and receive compliments?

On day in college, while getting one of my many daily diet cokes, I saw a girl dressed darling, but far different from what I normally see around my campus.  She was decked in a black pencil skirt, white ruffle blouse, and black blazer and accessorized with a darling cloche hat, black patent leather wedges, a red alligator clutch, and matching red lipstick.  Yes she may have been slightly over dressed for the dining hall environment, but I always like to see someone putting a little style karma out in the universe.

So being the gregarious and overzealous communicator that I am, I politely turned as I filled my cup with diet coke and said, “I like your outfit.”  Simple, true, and direct.  She responded, “And I LOVE your sweater.”  Now while I like my sweater as well (one of the perks from my mother working at Nordstrom’s!), it was simple cream with navy stripes.  But but nothing special.

This interaction got me thinking.  With girls, everything turns into a competition.  In college, I witnessed girls literally burning holes in their (daddy’s) credit cards and probably stomachs about painting their cooler for the fraternity banquet.  What they fail to recognize, though, it is not what is ON the cooler, but rather what’s IN it that the boy’s care about.  Yet we stress and obsess in order to have the prettiest cooler.

I digress.  The funniest part of a compliment, especially with females is the follow up from the complimented individual.  I have come to realize there are several approaches to receiving a compliment.

1.  The reciprocal compliment.  Some people just feel like they must return a compliment with a compliment.  Like the girl I met today.  While she may have meant it, I’m guessing based on what a hot mess I probably looked like, she just blurted out a compliment on the first thing she saw.

2. The long winded explanation.  I have to admit, I am very guilty of this.  At the slightest hint of acknowledgement about something, the complimented takes it as a full interest and invitation to ramble about where it was from, how it was made, how much it cost, how its color relates to life… (You get the picture.)

3.  Denial.  Don’t be like Marlin. Personally, I find this to be the single most irritating response.  I am frighteningly frank and honest.  I am not going to say I like something if I don’t.  Quit the humblebrag and take the compliment.

The fourth, final, and most fantastic response is the underutilized and classy“Thank you!”  Accompanied by a smile, it portrays confidence, elegance and poise.  It says (without saying, thank goodness) “Yes, I am fabulous, and I think you are fabulous for noticing.”

I try to offer at least three genuine compliments a day.  It makes me happy and I know these things tend to pay forward.  So next time you find yourself on the receiving end of a compliment, I highly recommend you put on your most charming smile and graciously thank the complimenting soul.

Of course, word of warning, when offering these compliments be genuine!  Some say that boys socialize by insulting each other, but they don’t mean it.  Girls socialize by complimenting each other, but they don’t mean it.  In the wise words of Dr.  Seuss…

(Click here to see this quote and others on my Pinterest boards!)

And most of all, don’t be a Regina George.

With love,
Sweetest Caroline

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One response to “The Art of Receiving a Compliment

  1. Men aren’t any better at receiving compliments. We either pretend we didn’t hear it and change the subject, or deflect and deny whatever was complimented, or do some variation on “Aw,hw,hw,gawrsh.”

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