I’ve never really been that shy about giving compliments.
It’s something I’m a bit proud of. If there’s compliment fodder at hand, why not mention it? Why not tell somebody that they’re great at math, or that they have lovely hands, or that they always wear the prettiest jewelry?
Oh, that’s right. Because some of us suck at receiving compliments.
Folks like this are everywhere, like little mines in the minefield of social interaction. Let’s say you’re waiting in line to get your grande hazelnut mocha at Starbucks, and the woman ahead of you has truly transcendent hair. Like, beautiful silky brown curls, the kind that get advertised in magazines. So you tap her shyly on the shoulder and say, “Um, I just wanted to say that your hair is fantastic!” Normally, this would develop into a pleasant little one-time interaction between the two of you, but there are a wide variety of Bad Compliment Receivers in the world.
She may react too modestly: “Oh, no no no, it looks terrible today.”
Or she may start a bragging spree: “I know, my hair always looks fantastic. It’s part of why I’m rich and successful, and my sexy Puerto Rican supermodel/rocket scientist boyfriend just adores it!”
She might get rude and snarky: “See, that’s what happens when you wash it.”
It’s possible that she’ll even TMI you with a diatribe of weirdness: “Well, I wash it with a gallon of lamb’s blood every full moon and whenever it gets too greasy. It’s best to do it outside on a cold day, so that all the nutrients from the blood can really seep into the scalp. Also, I find if I do a little pube wash at the same time, it really makes those babies glow.”
When Taylor read that last passage, he tried to tell me precisely what’s gross about it, and pretty much just said, “All of it.”
Folks, nobody actually wants to be any of these people. All of these reactions are usually the unfortunate result of just not knowing what to say. It’s tough to be put on the spot, even in a pleasant way, and often when we’re caught off guard we resort to saying something strange or mean. If we just knew exactly how to respond to a compliment, we would never end up telling that nice girl in Starbucks about how turned on we get by listening to Pavorotti in bed.
In an effort to prevent this exact sort of awkwardness, I’ve put together a comprehensive set of instructions. Feel free to print them out, put them in your pocket, and carry them around. The next time somebody says something sweet to you, pull it out, follow the conveniently numbered steps, and you will have just made a friend and evaded the reputation of being mean/odd/self-hating.
Welcome To Jessica Bagley’s Completely Comprehensive Guide To Receiving Compliments, Specially Designed For The Uninitiated And Uninformed.
So you’ve received a compliment! Good for you! Don’t panic, breathe deeply, and complete the following steps:
1. Say ‘Thank You’.
This Has Been Jessica Bagley’s Completely Comprehensive Guide To Receiving Compliments, Specially Designed For The Uninitiated And Uninformed.