if, like me, you have been brought up to look at modesty as the best virtue, compliments are the worst gift to receive. personally, i do not know how to handle them, no matter what they compliment or who the complimenter is.
whenever i get paid a compliment, i blush, i mutter and i either change discussion or rush to counter-argue it, leaving the person paying the compliment mostly perplexed about my mental state. it is not that i am overly modest. i think i have a pretty good idea of what i am worth. and yes, mostly i do deserve the compliments i receive. unless they are talking about my elegant waist, which truly makes me violent.
so out come the protests, the self belittling, the blushes and whatnot. it takes my complimenter a while to understand that i am actually answering in correct albanian woman etiquette and assuming that modest air my grandma instilled in me all those years ago. girl with big ego does not bring home worthy husband.
unfortunately, i was also taught that compliments never say the truth and the person who pays them to me must either want something from me, or is being facetious. watch the complimenters, they never say the truth.
on the other hand, compliments do enlighten one’s day. even a mumble from the homeless guy in the corner, can brighten my smile or lighten my step. as my hair receives the compliment, it pays it forward with swishes and curls, bounces and bobs that make the world a better place. oh it feels so good to get that extra smile from the cop when i am wearing new shoes, or the twinkle of the teller’s eyes as she looks at my hand.
a good compliment can make one overlook a misstep and forgive a booboo. a compliment can get one out of a parking ticket or into a VIP table. a compliment has the power to make one forget and say yes when one should really say no, and to gloss over the pain and the hurt about to be meted out.
so, when i felt its power and the control that a compliment can have over me, i set out to master it. i think i got a grasp on the whole thing when the soup guy finally smiled and gave me an extra bun. i experimented further until i got it right so here it is:
1. exaggerate but do not lie outright. (i.e. you really know how to use it, versus oh baby i can’t take all of that in!)
2. accompany the compliment with a sincere look (practice by looking at yourself squarely in the eye and saying, i’d do you! see how easy it can be?)
3. make simple, tried and true compliments (saying her eyes are like midnight is much better than saying her eyes are like midnight in amsterdam after eating the special brownies)
4. never ever compliment on purpose before you ask for a favor (p.sh. saying i love your hair, right before asking for a loan, is not fruitful and it will not get you anywhere . rather start pretending to pay attention to the person you need and say mid conversation, wow look at those eyes/t-shirt/dears of yours. they will be distracted and you can ask for their golden goose in precisely this moment.)
5. if you receive compliments, please please please do not treat them like enemy slogans or graffiti. instead smile gracefully and accept them as your due, because even if you do not deserve them, you possibly will)