“That’s a pretty shirt, Rachel.”
“This? I’ve had it forever. I just threw it on this morning.”
“Just say thank you. I know you are trying to be humble, but you need to learn to accept a compliment. When someone compliments you, the most humble thing you can say is thank you.”
This conversation took place over a decade ago, but I think of it often. I still struggle with accepting compliments graciously.
Sometimes, I deny the truth of the compliment. On closer inspection, this type of response is insulting to the person who complimented me. It implies that I do not trust their judgement. It also implies that I have a low opinion of myself. My sister Sarah recently shared a bit of wisdom with me, “When you think little of yourself, you are still thinking of yourself.” Often, when I think I am being humble, I am actually being insecure. I am thinking of myself before I think of others.
Other times, I reciprocate with a compliment of my own. This seems polite on the surface, but it empties the compliment that I received of any depth. It voids the consideration placed into the original compliment by showing that I can return the favor instantly and effortlessly. It makes the original compliment seem insignificant by association. Also, by trying to ensure that I am just as nice as the other person, I am again putting myself first.
When I accept a compliment with a heartfelt word of thanks, I honor the giver of the compliment. I receive the gift of their words, and I allow them to nourish my spirit as intended. I allow the words of another to bear weight, and that sort of respect is a compliment of it’s own kind anyway.