The Art of Compliments – Giving Effectively and Receiving Graciously

There you are in any situation and someone pays you a compliment. They say you look well or gorgeous or that meal you cooked was lovely. You blush. Then comes the put-down. It is from you not the one complimenting you. We women are often our own worst emery.

I have seen this happen so often. Why do we do it?

There are many reasons why women can be afraid of compliments. The simplest one is that we have not been taught how to give effective compliments nor how to receive them graciously.

Good manners never go out of fashion and a sincere compliment is a special gift to be treasured.

Here is my simple guide to giving and receiving compliments.

How to Give Effective Compliments

The aim of most women is to dress and look nice enough to receive compliments. These come more often from other women than the men in your life.

A great compliment is first about your body language. Be expressive and smile with your mouth and eyes as you give it. Nice words which are spoken from the mouth only are perceived as flattery and not believed. A smile from the mouth and eyes is perceived as more genuine.

Now for a technique I first learnt from Allan and Barbara Pease in their book, ‘Easy Peasey People Skills for Life’.  Add an explanation ie words that expand on why are saying nice things to that person.  Instead of saying that the other person looks lovely, add another sentence or use – ‘because’ – followed by your reason. ‘You look lovely because that aqua colour really makes you shine’. If you can, compliment her on her talents and skills. This shows that you have noticed something special about her. It will be heard, remembered and make her feel good about herself.

Lastly use her name at any place in your compliment. Using her name makes the compliment unique and special to her and acknowledges that she counts for something in the world.

We all have inborn skills and talents that we take for granted because they come easily to us and we assume that everyone else can do that skill as effortlessly as we can. When you notice that special skill and take the time to tell another person that this is not universal to everyone, you are giving the gift of individuality and reminding them that they have something unique that they can contribute to the world.

As adults, most of us get so little appreciation that giving a compliment is a wonderful gift and may be the nicest words that the other person has heard in a very long time.

Writing a Thank You

A short sentence or paragraph explaining why you are writing a Thank You Note is a compliment in a written form. Use the same technique to personalise cards or write on letter paper. You will be remembered as considerate, thoughtful and perceptive.

How to Receive Compliments Graciously

The mark of a confident woman is how graciously you receive compliments.

The simplest way is to say – thank you. Then smile. Those two words and a smile are enough. Many women are embarrassed by compliments; so just saying only those two words takes courage. At the most say – thank you for noticing.

Please do not add words that criticise or negate you or your talents and skills. The other person has given you a gift. Do not belittle their gift by saying that they are wrong. When you do this, you are embarrassing both yourself and the person who complimented you.

Being given a compliment is an opportunity to see yourself as others see you and to feel about yourself as others feel when they meet you. We are all concerned about the image we present to the world. A compliment allows us to experience the results of our efforts, especially our innate talents and our learned skills.

So listen more, speak very little and accept and appreciate the unique person you are.

There you have it. Explain the compliments you give and receive all compliments with two words and a smile. Simple but not always easy.

(This is a composite article of two shorter articles on Compliments that were sent to readers of  The Fashion Translator eZine’ in 2011. Click here to Signup for ‘The Fashion Translator’ eZine.)

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