Tag Archives: appreciation

The Most Appealing Way to Take a Compliment

“Power of Pink” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Why People Give Compliments

Some compliments are more meaningful than others. The best ones are specific, genuine, and address something that requires effort or skill. Others are less meaningful, because they are general, manipulative, or address a quality that you were born with, such as being tall.

In either case, when people give compliments, they are generally attempting to make a connection with you or to make you feel good. They feel good when they have a positive effect and when they are acknowledged. So whether the compliment is really meaningful or not, consider the other person’s feelings, and avoid focusing simply on whether you feel embarrassed and whether you deserve the compliment.

How Not to Respond to a Compliment

Imagine how a person might feel if you respond to a compliment with dismissiveness or a negative remark about yourself. For example,

“You look fantastic!”

“No I don’t. I look terrible.”

Your response is unfriendly and unappreciative. In negating the compliment, you lose vitality and desirability. More importantly, the person giving the compliment feels rebuffed.

Some people fear that they will come across as arrogant if they accept a compliment too readily. However, accepting a compliment does not mean letting it go to your head. If you know yourself, then your self-worth will not be based on casual external feedback.

There is also no need to argue against the validity or motivation of a compliment. If we do not let it inflate our ego, we do not have to worry about someone’s dubious intentions. Even if the compliment is given in an attempt to manipulate you, graciously accepting it does not mean you will let it influence your actions.

How to Take a Compliment

Taking a moment to feel gratitude when you are treated well is a gift for the person giving the compliment. Why not enjoy soaking in kind words like a few rays of sunshine? People enjoy knowing they have made someone else feel good. Letting your appreciation show with a smile, a twinkle of the eye, and a “Thank you” encourages people to continue to look for the good in both you and others.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

~Leo F. Buscaglia

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Parental Boasting for Self-Esteem:
‘Honey, I was just telling the Jones how smart and athletic you are.'”

“It’s not as though I don’t do anything around here!”

"The Kiss" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“The Kiss” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

If someone says, “Did you see all the stuff I did for you today?” ignore your impulse to get defensive or to snap back “I do a lot for you too !” or worse, “Why do you always have to list all the things you’ve done for me!” These types of responses are very detrimental to your relationship.

When people mention the things they’ve done, they simply want acknowledgement and appreciation. Yet many people respond defensively as though they are being attacked. Even IF the other person is implying that you never do anything, show him or her the appreciation desired as follows:

“Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. You are wonderful for doing that for me.” If you want, you could add, “Please let me know when you need help. I would love to do something for you,” or simply do something considerate for them.

So many arguments could be avoided if people could understand the underlying desires that motivate a person’s apparent complaints. It is usually a simple desire for recognition, which should be a joy to satisfy, rather than an excuse to become critical, hostile and argumentative.

To have a loving, trusting, and mutually-enhancing relationship, there must be a constant effort to be kind and see the best in other people and acknowledge them for their efforts. Then everyone will shine and try to live up to their best.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Overgeneralization: ‘You never show appreciation.’”

Watch “How to ask for more affection, intimacy and sex…and…how not to.”

Read “Seeking approval: ‘Why doesn’t my father appreciate me and all that I have accomplished?’”


Ignoring the Positive:
“What’s the big deal? I do a lot too.”

"Perception" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Complacency often causes people to make the following types of comments:

“That wasn’t very hard.”

“You should see what Joan’s husband gets done on the weekend!“

“Well, that’s what a woman is supposed to do!”

“I make dinner all the time!”

“That’s nothing. You should see what I got done today!”

It’s as disheartening to have your efforts dismissed as it is to have them completely ignored. Discounting or ignoring the contributions of others causes people to feel insignificant, defensive, and resentful, which results in:

1. Their withholding further effort,

2. Feeling bad about themselves,

3. Becoming critical,

4. Withholding appreciation for others, and

5. Holding back love.

In contrast, the more a person recognizes the efforts of others, the more good-will they build up. Instead of feeling downcast, defeatist, and defiant, people who are appreciated become confident, cheerful, and giving.

Another benefit to showing plenty of appreciation is that it becomes easier to provide occasional constructive criticism without causing hurt.

If you fall into a pattern where each person disregards or ignores the efforts of the other, it takes enormous determination to break out of that pattern. For a difficult period of time, it may be a one-way street of recognizing the positive in the other person before you receive some appreciation yourself. It helps to remember that people who are unappreciative and cynical are simply protecting their own vulnerability.

If the other person says, “So what? I do a lot too,” you can respond, “I know you do a lot, and I appreciate that. However, it makes me feel better, even happy, when you recognize the things I do as well.”

You may have to ask for some appreciation — without sounding whiney or demanding. You could ask with a smile, “How do you like the delicious dinner I made?” Or “I worked really hard today; I need some love and appreciation.” Such requests should be made with kindness and gratitude because any hint of criticism or complaint may cause a backlash of ill will.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

~Frederick Keonig

by Alison Poulsen

Read “Five Keys to a Great Relationship: ‘There’s nothing we can do to stay in love.’”

Read “Overgeneralization: ‘You never show appreciation.’”

Read “Resentment Part 4: ‘I do it all and get no recognition.’ Ten Ways to eliminate resentment through self-empowerment.”

“Why did she give me that gift? She knows I hate red.”

"Romanza" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire


So what I really meant was…

“It’s the thought that counts. If I can’t exchange it, at least I’ll be ready for the next white elephant party.”

A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.

~Thomas á Kempis

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Resentment.”

Overgeneralization:
“You never show appreciation.”

"Precision" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Seeing patterns and generalizing from them is a crucial human skill. Scientists, business owners, and most capable people develop the ability to spot patterns in human behavior.

Yet, sometimes we make sweeping generalizations that exaggerate or oversimplify reality. Taking one unfortunate incident and jumping to conclusions can create problems.

Even if someone does tend to repeat certain types of behavior, it is not helpful to make overgeneralizations. People get defensive when you say, “You never show appreciation.” “You spend all your time with your friends instead of with me.” “You always interrupt me.”

It’s more effective to be specific and talk about one incident at a time. Limit yourself to specific facts, and focus on a desired solutions.

For instance, if you seek appreciation, you can ask, “Isn’t this dinner I cooked delicious?”

Instead of complaining about someone’s frequent absence, you could suggest, “I’d like to spend some time with you. When can we get together?”

To get someone to stop interrupting, you could say, “Please let me finish” each time you’re interrupted.

Specific positive requests are more likely to get you what you want than gross generalizations.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Black-and-white thinking. ‘I used to think she was fantastic. But it was all a façade. She’s really horrible.'”

“I feel so critical of my partner. I can’t help pointing out every flaw.”

"Baby I love your Way" Peter Frampton by Mimi Stuart Live the Life you Desire

There are three important reasons to look for the positive in your partner. First, how you treat other people becomes who you are. Would you rather be understanding, supportive, appreciative and optimistic, or critical, stern, mean-spirited, and nit-picking? When you push yourself to act respectfully and overlook unimportant flaws, you will feel much better about yourself.

Second, how you judge others affects the way they behave and view themselves. When you point out how sloppy and clumsy another person is, those traits will become magnified. If, instead, you focus on their good qualities, they will tend to reflect those qualities.

Third, constant criticism will wreck a relationship and make you both miserable.

If you tend to be critical, you have to purposely develop the habit of appreciating the good in others. The neuro-plasticity of our brains allows us to change, but it requires a lot of practice. Every time you think, “What a slob,” you must force yourself to think and even express a different thought about the person, such as, “You are always there for me and the kids.” After 2000 or so thought switches, it becomes almost natural to change that particular thought. It also becomes easier to see the good in people around you, because they will thrive in an environment of appreciation.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Criticism and Contempt.”

Read “I’m shocked how much I criticize my dad for not standing up for himself.”