When someone compliments you the proper response contains three, possibly four, of the following components.
First, be nice to yourself. I hate it when I compliment someone and they disregard it. Accept the compliment. You’re worth it!
Second, don’t be arrogant. Even in jest, comments like “I know right?!” can actually hurt the other person’s feelings.
Third, sincerely thank the other person for letting you know that cool thing about you. After all, they didn’t have to say anything at all.
Last, only, ONLY, (Did I mention ONLY?) compliment the other person if you can do it genuinely. Don’t tell them, “You too!” when you don’t feel it. This hails back to #2, but if you aren’t genuine in your compliment the other person knows it and it devalues the compliment they gave you. Keep in mind that if someone compliments you it doesn’t warrant a compliment back. Just showing gratitude is enough of a gift back to them. That’s all I want when I compliment someone: a thank you or a smile. Oh yeah, add a smile. However, that said, if you give genuine compliment back it can really make their day, and yours, when they smile broadly!
So I say, “You’re awesome!” Pick one of the responses below in response:
- Thanks! I think you’re awesome too!
- You’re so sweet! That makes me feel fantastic!
- I trust your judgement. You’re right. Thanks!
- Thanks for letting me know that. You always make me feel great about myself! Thanks!
The same goes for a criticism.
First, be nice to yourself. It’s hard to hear a criticism, but it’s how we grow and you can learn a lot from mean people, or even someone just trying to help you out. Don’t take a hit to your self-esteem. Recognize that we all suck: we all have areas to improve on. Just because someone (or lots of someones) point out to you a flaw doesn’t make you a failure. Just take it with a pinch of salt.
Second, don’t get defensive. Either 1) they’re just trying to help, or 2) they’re mean. Either way, realize that they can’t lower your worth. You’re already of infinite worth and they just made you better.
Third, sincerely thank the other person for letting you know how you can increase your awesomeness. Like I said before, either they’re trying to help or they’re mean. Either way it’s the same end thing.
Fourth, if you can do so sincerely, compliment them.
So Sally says, “You know, you could really work on your tact.” Your response could sound like:
- Thank Sally for letting me know. I hadn’t realized. I will try to do better.
- (You could even ask for help in how to improve.) I really do want to improve. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
- I really appreciate your willingness to share with me. I know it can be really hard to tell someone a criticism and I appreciate how much thought you put into it and that you had the courage to let me know. Thanks for being such a great friend.
- That’s really good feedback. Thanks for sharing.
My brother, Zeke, and I play a lot of games and we give each other a lot of feedback. At first we argued and even yelled (which is totally out of character for me, at least the character I’ve worked hard to develop) at each other, but as I matured we got much better at communicating.
The biggest final change was when my brother and I were going for an advanced (technically insane) achievement with only two players (most people get it with four); there was a lot of feedback going back and forth. At one point Zeke got really frustrated with me, when we died, again, and said, “You know it would be really nice if you stood off to one side or the other so I could kill the guys without you being in the way all the time.”
I was going to bite back when I realized three things: first, was he was trying to help me stay alive, second, he was right — it would be nice for both of us if I stood off to the side so, and third, I hadn’t realized I was standing directly and very closely behind him (so I could heal him and he could kill the guys) because I was trying to keep track of everything else going on. So I took a deep breath to change my frame of thought and said, “That’s really good feedback. Really good. I’ll do that next time. Let’s try again.” And the next time we made it through the corridor. Not only that, but then when I had feedback he took it without an argument and we could discuss, without anyone’s feelings involved, strategies. It took a couple more tries, but we got that achievement!
The key or secret in all of this is to be honest, genuine, loving, and always kind.
Also, keep in mind: no matter what anyone says at anytime, you are of infinite worth! And really, you ARE awesome! Trust me.