Things I Want My Daughters To Know {compliments}

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Compliments are gifts we give to other people.  Our words are powerful expressions of inward feelings and thoughts, and compliments can be a tiny slice of sunshine on a cloudy day.  Compliments are kind to say, and they are a delight to hear, but so many times we mess it all up with what we say in response to a compliment.

To my daughters, here is what I want you to know.

It is easy to give compliments.  It is an art to receive them.

Most scenes go like this:

“Your house looks so pretty!”

“Oh, well, we have so much more work to do.  I mean, the bathroom grout is coming out.”


“This chocolate cake is delicious!”

“Well, it was so easy.  I mean, I just didn’t have time to do something fancy.”


“Your hair looks so cute!”

“Well, I really need a haircut, and my roots are showing.”


 ”You did a great job sharing your testimony at Bible study last week.”

“Well, I don’t know.  I mean, I really botched up this one part, and I should have talked slower.  I was nervous.”

No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

This is not receiving a compliment.  This is arguing with a compliment.  Receiving a compliment is as much about the giver of the compliment as it is about you.

Let me say that again.

Receiving a compliment is as much about the giver of the compliment as it is about you.  

It takes strength of character and fortitude of mind to fully receive the gift of someone else’s kind words.  Why?  Because in order to graciously receive a compliment, you have to cease thinking of yourself, even though you are the focal point of the statement.

It seems like a compliment should be all about you.  I mean, someone is bringing up something they like about something you did.  It would logically follow that the whole thing is about you.  RIght?  Wrong.  Paradoxically, graciously receiving a compliment requires you to consider the other person above yourself, even though you are momentarily the center of their attention.

I understand why people respond with rebuttals when complimented.  We don’t want to appear self-centered.  We don’t want to seem proud.  We want to appear humble.  Or, at times, we really don’t believe good things about ourselves and have absolutely no idea how anyone else would either.

The art of compliment-receiving requires us to set all that aside.

Think of it this way.  When you are paid a compliment, and then respond by explaining it away, you are telling the person who issued the kind words, “You are wrong.”  Very few people like being told they are wrong.  All those “humble” statements you issue actually make a case for why the other person’s assessment of you is inaccurate and their opinion is incorrect.  In essence, you take their compliment and turn it into an insult, and that, dear daughters, is very rude.  Let’s not be rude.

Here is how to graciously hear and receive a compliment.

“I love how cozy your living room looks!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“Gosh, this lasagna is amazing!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“Look how beautiful you are!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“You are doing a really great job.”

(smile)  ”Thank you!”

The formula is simple:  Smile and say thank you.

That’s it.  The end.  No qualifications or justifications or excuses.

Smile and say thank you.

In doing so, you are allowing someone else to love you with kind words, and you are extending grace to them by valuing their opinion, even if you don’t agree or feel uncomfortable believing what they say.  You aren’t being proud.  You aren’t being self-focused.  You are being thankful.  And gratitude is always lovely.

Smile and say thank you.

It is simple, but it is not easy.  I have gritted my teeth and curled my toes at times to keep from gushing forth all sorts of disclaimers and reasons why someone shouldn’t think complimentary thoughts about me.  But over time it has become much easier.  I still tell myself “smile and say thank you smile and say thank you smile and say thank you” every time someone tells me something complimentary.  And it’s getting easier to receive.

Daughters, you are lovely, beautiful, smart, special, loved, talented, and all together wonderful.

Smile and say thank you.

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3 Responses to Things I Want My Daughters To Know {compliments}

  1. Leonida says:

    Finally i quit my day job, now i earn a lot of money
    online you should try too, just search in google – slabs roulette

  2. Pingback: Weeknight Wonder {Roasted Pork Tacos} | katherine sasser

  3. Rachelle says:

    I asked your husband to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. He said, “No. Leave a comment and tell her yourself.” (It sounded much nicer than that.) So I am commenting. Thank you for blogging.

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