Why Is It So Hard to Give and Receive Compliments?

I was pleasantly surprised by this story in the New York Times today about New York’s 311 information line. At least several times each day, a caller calls in to actually¬†compliment taxi drivers. Complaints are obviously much more common. This is NYC, after all. A compliment from an unexpected source is a rare gift. It seems like it makes people’s day every time an unexpected compliment is received. So then the question arises: if compliments are so validating and valuable, then why is it so hard to give them freely, and why is it so much harder to receive them? Are we just moving too fast to pay attention?

Maybe we could practice giving one extra compliment to a stranger today and maybe we could place a little more attention on when somebody is giving us good news about ourselves and just received a little bit more fully with gratitude.

Happy Thursday.

One thought on “Why Is It So Hard to Give and Receive Compliments?

  1. Hi Nathan.

    I’m in Berkeley at a four-day hands-on healing workshop. Every other day, one of the students is chosen for a demonstration session with the teacher. While lying down on the table, both students said, “I feel guilty about receiving this session.” It got me thinking about how difficult it is to receive, and I think it may be even harder when we receive what we were hoping for. It is a fantastic sensation for the giver when someone receives a compliment or a gift with open joy. In this workshop, I’ve felt glad these two students were chosen – incidentally, choosing is random, writing names on paper then throwing them into the air and one of us picks a paper and reads the name – and learned a great deal from the demonstration, equally from teacher and recipient of the treatment. Yes, let us celebrate our own good fortune, enjoy complimentary words said to us, and perhaps others will see there is the possibility of unrestrained joy in receiving.

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