By Judith Rasband AICI CIM (Certified Image Master)
©2017 Conselle Institute of Image Management
Waiting in line at the grocery store, I overheard snatches of a conversation in the adjoining line.
“You look pretty today,” said the friendly grocery checker to a customer she seemed to know.
“Oh, come on,” the woman answered in disbelief. “I look awful and you know it.”
How many times has someone told you that you looked great and you responded with something like that–or like this, “Me, look pretty? But my hair is a mess.”
Such are the ungracious and self-deprecating responses with which compliments are so often met. Hasn’t anyone been taught that the proper response to a compliment is a courteous “Thank you”?
Common sense may say that it’s rude to contradict people who go out of their way to give a compliment. But it’s become common practice to dispute the flattering comment lest we be considered conceited, a braggart or at the very least, dishonest.
I’ve come to believe that our casual and unpretentious American attitude toward life, coupled with our direct manner and lack of a ritual response, has made us uncomfortable when we are complimented. Our insecurities surface and we answer with an almost automatic and flip denial of sorts.
Perhaps our inability to accept a compliment graciously is the result of feelings of inadequacy that most of us develop when we compare ourselves to fashion ideals. We recognize that we fall short of perfect and conclude that we cannot really be attractive. We dwell on our imperfections and when someone is so misguided as to compliment us on our more pleasing features, we feel it only honest to point out our failings.
Oh, I’ve been guilty of this practice. People sometimes tell me I look so nice and slim. Knowing full well that I carry extra weight below my waist, and righteously eager to correct this mistaken notion, I’ve responded with a flip, “Only above the waist,” or “It pays to have a skinny neck.”
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