An internet friend recently wrote a blog about how hard it is for her to accept a compliment, or even more specifically, how hard it is for her to say "You're welcome" when somebody thanks her for something. (See "You're Welcome" at ipstenu.org.)
Her blog got me thinking -- certainly, many people (perhaps especially women) have a hard time accepting compliments graciously. As she wrote, it sometimes seems "more" polite to deflect the compliment -- "it was nothing" -- shrug it off, or say explicitly "you don't have to thank me".
This is particularly true when what you're being thanked for is something you do because you WANT to do it (in her case, being thanked in person by the celebrity she runs a fansite for). It feels unseemly to say "you're welcome" for doing something you really just love to do.
Though I totally identify with the tendency of shrug off compliments, I told her that I'd SO much rather "have" to say "you're welcome" than the gut-wrenching words, "I'm sorry".
Yeah, compliments are hard to take, especially if you *know* you get something out of the task anyway.
But having to apologize is so much worse.
Being able to do both is a sign of maturity and decency.
Ironically, people often apologize for things that they're NOT responsible for ("I'm so sorry it's raining"). Parents often apologize to their children when really, it's not such a good idea (I"m sorry I got so mad at you, but..."). Often, it's TOTALLY OK for a kid to know they got into trouble; parents don't need to apologize for being righteously angry! In fact, by apologizing when we shouldn't we give the dangerous message to our kids that we're not sure if we're doing the right thing. And -- writing from experience here -- those little buggers really know how to manipulate their parents' soft underbelly.
Never. Let. Them. See. You. Sweat.
That said, there's nothing quite as humiliating as having to apologize when you *know* that indeed, you really messed up.
I try to tell my kids that it's best to try to do the right thing, the first time, in order to avoid having to utter the words, "I'm sorry."
And I tell them that "You're welcome" is a gracious way to respond to two of the nicest words we ever get to hear: "Thank. YOU."
- My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.