It happened like this: while at a bookstore’s open mic night, I heard an author read from her work-in-progress. I was awestruck. That voice. The lush language. The evocative tone. The no-other-word-could-have-been-more-perfect detail. Compelled to tell the author, I approached her to offer my compliments. “It’s horrible,” she said. I protested thinking she was feigning modesty. But this time she was more insistent, “No. It’s horrible” and the grimace on her face let me know she meant it. I walked away feeling chastised and even judged–apparently I cannot recognize good writing from bad and my opinion is worthless. Ouch.
Did the author intend to make me feel that way? I think not. She was probably swaddled in her own writerly insecurities (like most of us) and it came out looking like anger. But it made me wonder if I’ve ever done something similar. Do I handle compliments or encouraging words with grace or do I grimace and make the giver feel like a fool? (Trust me. It was a lot more fun when I was thinking about the other author’s reaction instead of my own. Ouch again.)
While I was mulling over the topic of accepting compliments, I ran across what I think is a spot-on article I want to share: “How to Accept a Compliment with Class.” I appreciate the way the author breaks down our compliment-related communication breakdowns and offers practical, appropriate responses. If anyone ever compliments me again, I will be ready!
Please enjoy the article–with my compliments, of course.
I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough. ~ Mark Twain