I don’t know how to take a compliment. Every time I am complimented, I have to deflect, defer or qualify. Every time. If you compliment an article of clothing, I’ll either tell you how old it is, how cheap it was or from whom I borrowed it. I have a ten month old baby, so people will often say, “You look great for just having had a baby.” What do I say? I tell them that I actually am gaining weight right now, that I was terribly sick while I was pregnant and didn’t gain any weight, so really there was nothing to lose. I tell them that six months ago I was a size four, so really what you see today is no cause for compliment. Why can’t I just say thank you? Is it because I feel disingenuous accepting a compliment that I don’t feel ‘worthy’ of? Is this a sign of some desperate, deeply rooted insecurity? Or is it because I love to talk so much that I will seize any opportunity to launch into a story?
Just yesterday I was in this very situation. I was at a luncheon with a group of my husband’s colleagues (most of whom I had never met before). One woman said, “You don’t look like you just had a baby.” The following conversation ensued:
Me: Well, it was almost a year ago, now.
Woman: Well, a year ago is ‘just’ to me. You look great! ***see, here the poor woman is just trying to reiterate her compliment, do I get it? Nope…read on*****
Me: Well, to be honest, I’m actually gaining weight now. You see, I had this condition called hyperemesis when I was pregnant and I lost 45 lbs. during my pregnancy. So, four weeks after I had my baby I was like, a size four. Now, I’m just trying to hold it steady.****About 30 seconds into this monologue the woman started looking away and fidgeting, probably wondering how she got into this conversation***
Woman: Well, you look terrific! ***walking away*** Excuse me.
WHY? WHY? Why do I this? So, I need some help. What’s the best way to accept a compliment besides just saying ‘thank you’? Especially in a cocktail party situation where you don’t have relationships with the people to whom you are speaking and you want to be a good conversationalist?