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What Do You Say?

From a young age, we teach children to say “thank you.”  In fact, the teaching is so prevalent that often times in public, you hear the phrase commonly spoken from parent to child, “What do you say?”  Usually, a meek or quick “thank you” is uttered and the parent is satisfied.  The practice is to be lauded as our children need to learn to be thankful.  Thankfulness is a very important lesson as gratitude is crucial to a happy life.

So, if gratitude is so important that we spend time teaching it to toddlers, why is it difficult for so many adults to accept a compliment?  I’ve heard and seen so many scenarios when something nice is said to someone else, and the receiver of the compliment immediately disclaims the remark.  Maybe the compliment receiver utters, “Oh, you don’t really mean that…” or maybe they simply give an eye-roll to make sure that the compliment giver knows that they don’t believe in the compliment.


Are we embarrassed when something good is said about us?  Are we trying to show humility?  Maybe those who disclaim compliments are trying to communicate that they don’t believe the compliment could be true.  Is our collective self-esteem so poor that we don’t even like compliments?

I believe that accepting compliments is a crucial step towards believing in yourself.  Many times after a speaking engagement, I’ll hear things like, “You changed my life” or “You are amazing, and I loved your talk.”  One woman came out of a recent talk that my dad and I gave and said she had acknowledged that she had a bad attitude. She had decided to give her failing marriage another chance because of our presentation.  WOW!  Am I that good?  Is our message that powerful?  I can’t answer those questions. 

I can say that God uses us to spread the Good News to everyone who will hear, and He gets all the glory.  I can’t disclaim a compliment with an eye-roll because I know that if I do, what I am really saying is that I’m not good enough for God to make use of.  I can’t and won’t believe that.  As one person put it, “God don’t make no junk!”

So, when I am complimented, like the young child, I say “thank you” or if appropriate, “praise God.”  I dare you to try it.  If you are accustomed to shying away from compliments, try responding “thank you.”  Not only will you feel better, the compliment giver will also feel better as he/she will be validated, too.

And, remember, as children, most of us were taught to say “thank you.”  If a child can do it, so can you!