The Gracious Thank You

I was going to post just a picture today, in the spirit of Wordless Wednesdays but then I had an interesting experience. It was really just a moment.

I was just at the grocery store, loading my goodies into the trunk of my car. I was aware of another car that was slowing backing into a space two slots over. Because the driver was backing in, he was also facing my direction.

Then I heard, “I tell you what, it doesn’t get any prettier than that.”

Huh? I look up at the driver, not sure if he’s talking to me or if I’ve even heard him right, while also checking my peripheral vision for other people. Nope. Nobody else around.

And he says, “You are gorgeous.” (It still makes me laugh just to read it.)

I made some sort of scoff noise, and feeling awkward, I managed (with a goofy grin) to say, “Thank you. Have a good day.” And I hoped in my car and drove away. He waved as I drove by.

Let me just say, this doesn’t happen to me every day. It makes me feel incredibly awkward because I don’t think of myself that way. I know my husband must enjoy what he sees (here’s hoping) because he agreed to spend his life seeing it. But the rest of the world? I don’t know.

I hope it doesn’t seem conceited to share this with you. It just makes me laugh, and smile. It made my day even though it was a little awkward. I guess unsolicited compliments are always a little suspect. Is the guy creepy or just being friendly?

This moment also makes me think about a topic I’ve thought about writing about but haven’t yet – how to say thank you graciously when you don’t think you’re deserving of the praise, or the gift, or what-have-you.

I’ve seen a lot of people who turn a compliment around, to devalue it rather than simply accepting it. Like my scoff in the parking lot. Or, if say a boss gives high praise for a project well done, and the employee makes light of it and says something along the lines of, “oh it was nothing.” It may seem like nothing to the person who did it because it’s a skill they have that comes easily to them, but that doesn’t mean it comes easily to everyone. It is something of value that the person offers and it’s entirely fair to compliment them for their expertise, even if it seems easy to them.

Too often I see people doing this turnaround on compliments or praise (myself included) rather than simply saying thank you. I am trying to make a concerted effort to do better with the gracious thank you, but I admit it is hard to get past the awkwardness. Maybe it gets easier with practice. Or maybe it’s just human nature to impose feelings of awkwardness on yourself when another person says something that makes you feel good.

“I feel a very unusual sensation – if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.”
~ Benjamin Disraeli


One comment

  1. You had a WAY better day than I! Way to go. As to your question, I don’t know if there is a way to graciously accept some compliments – especially ones about looks because it does feel conceited to be genuinely happy about those. It is really awkward when you are married because it feels unfaithful to appreciate a stranger’s admiration. I think your response was perfect.


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