The Delicate Dance of Receiving a Compliment

Ah, compliments.  Anyone can toss one out,  "Your kaftan is to die for!" "Have you lost weight?" "My your house looks lovely this evening..." It's easier than a good tennis serve.  It is the return of course, that can trip one up so easily.   In these effusive times,  when every pause in conversation is filled with "I just love you handbag" it is harder than ever to come up with the correct mannerly response to such unsolicited and often hollow-sounding praise.

In an effort to be modest (or possibly point our her superb retail skills) a recipient may find herself saying something like "Oooh thanks!  Target, for just $19.99 - can you believe?" or "I got it at Bloomies with double coupons - I saved a bundle I can tell you!"

Then there is the serve and volley situation. Sally says, "Oh I love that skirt" Jane shoots back "Thank you, I've been admiring your shoes all evening."  Sally, "And your hair looks fabulous." Jane, "Look at your bracelet!" These gals could go all night.

Occasionally, although this seems to be the metier of the older generation and European ladies, one still hears "Oh, this old thing? I've had it for ages" in answer to a compliment.  This response is elegant in its modesty but may have the (hopefully) unintended side effect of making the complimenter feel a bit silly for liking some 'old thing' even if it is vintage Dior.

So we come to this blogger's favorite response to any compliment, which for some reason seems harder and harder to stand by in these days of constant chatter.  It is of course, wait for it... the classic and oh-so-simple "Thank you." Yet, we ask ourselves, amid all the babble around us, is it enough? Is it enough to assume the person giving you a compliment is sincere?  Is it enough to be grateful for the kind words of praise and demonstrate this in the most genuine and brief way possible?

Let's hope so.


New Lisa said...

I thought you were going to talk about my favorite response to "Thank You" - "No problem." Someday I'm going to respond to a "No problem." with "Actually, I think it was a problem, so thanks for working your way through it." Or "Of course it's no problem. It's actually your job, for which you get paid, to hand me an extra packet of ketchup to go with my jumbo sized fries. So, thank you again and let me say if for you - YOU ARE WELCOME."

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

We should start a list of these odd responses. I would add "I'm good" as in:

"Would you like a glass of water?"
"I'm good."

When of course the negative answer is, "No thank you."

Elizabeth Baxter Butcher said...

We must include:

When someone bumps into you or is otherwise in your way and you say "Excuse me" and the other person say "uh-hun." As if you were causing the problem.

Someday I would love to say, "Pardon me, but in point of fact you bumped into me so it is you who should be saying 'excuse me or I beg your pardon or sorry' anything but uh-hun to me."

kayce hughes said...

Well said.

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