Friday, September 4, 2015

Handing Out and Handling Compliments

Yup, I really do wear this.
Would it kill you to say something nice?

No, but it can be tricky.

I routinely experience a situation where about 50% of the people have a hard time.

When I write an article, I might interview a dozen people. When the article is published, I will email these people the online link to it. Only about half will acknowledge they got it. Is it hard to hit “reply”? Does it cost money to say “Thanks”? And these are not people who are unhappy with the piece. It’s not unusual for me to find out later that they ordered reprints, etc.

I’m not blaming them. I’ve done the same thing myself.

But, why?

The people who do respond about an article, do so immediately. That’s key: if you have the opportunity to say something nice, don’t hesitate.

But timing can be hard, especially in conversation. Some people are so good at immediately complimenting somebody on something. But once they compliment you, you now can’t just turn around and compliment them because, well, it sounds like you’re doing it only because they did it to you.

And I’m not always so quick to notice something positive or to formulate what to say. It’s one of the drawbacks of being a grump.

I worry about sounding sincere. I have a Cookie Monster t-shirt that people always compliment. “Yeah, well, if you had an enormous pink bow on your head, they’d say, ‘Nice bow’ too,” my husband pointed out. So, there’s that: people tend to mention stuff that draws their attention, good or bad.

Then, there’s being on the receiving end. The proper response to a compliment is “Thank you,” period. It can be hard to refrain from replying that, no, your outfit actually sucks.

I’ll get the hang of all this someday.


  1. I've found that people are quicker to register complaints about things than they are compliments. When my daughter went to the ER with a pulmonary embolism several years ago, the doctor on duty was the only one of several she'd seen that day who suspected what it turned out to be. His quick action saved her life, in my opinion. I wrote him a thank you note because I felt too many people are trigger happy about blame but let good outcomes slide by without a mention.

    I like your t-shirt too. And I'm not just saying that. A pink bow? Not so much. :)

    1. You're right. I am sure that doctor really appreciated your note because my husband's a doctor. He's gotten some notes and cards like that and he keeps them in a special folder in his desk. :o)