Tuesday, July 07, 2009

No More Thank-You-Buts

JoAnn's sunning on the beach and asked me to post this for her...

Like a lot of Southern mothers, my mom raised me to be modest in speech. When someone complimented me, the proper response was a simple “thank you.”

But as I got older, that “thank you” acquired an ugly appendage of self-disparagement. If someone told me they liked my haircut, I would say “Thank you. But I think it makes me look a lot older.” If someone complimented my attire, I would say “Thank you. I know it makes me look fat, but it sure is comfortable.” If someone complimented my cooking (a rare occurrence, to be sure), I would say “Thank you. But I cooked it too long and I should have added more butter.”

Last year at a conference, a well-known author introduced me to her agent. The writer said “JoAnn’s been burning up the contest finals lately.” My response? “Thank you. But I just don’t tell anybody about all the contests that I don’t final in.” The lovely smile on the agent’s face faded quickly.

So I’m adopting a new attitude. I’m going old-school. No more beating myself up. When someone compliments my writing, a simple “thank you” will do nicely. And if you see me take a breath to say something else, will you please clap your hand over my mouth?

12 comments:

M.V.Freeman said...

JoAnn,
I have the same problem, its like we have to say something negative when someone compliments us.

So I am with you...no more negatives with a positive!

M.V.Freeman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.V.Freeman said...

Ok, I have to explain the deleted comment, which of course makes it worse, but next to a negative with a positive its a compulsion.....

I posted the comment twice by accident. AH well. :)

Hope you get a chuckle out of it.

Karen Beeching said...

You're so right, JoAnn. This habit started for me as a child. My dad teased us mercilessly growing up, and I handled this by putting myself down before he could. It was easier having people laugh with me instead of at me.

This took YEARS to stop doing.

When I was 22, my boss complimented my work. I said, "Thanks but it's the incredible software." An employee he was speaking with said, "Just say thank you and walk away."

I was embarrassed, to say the least. He later explained to me that I NEVER take a compliment and how it comes out as an insult to the person giving it.

I had never thought of it that way and it helped me overcome the issue.

So, I'm right there with you, and some days it still takes great effort.

Caitlin Wildhagen said...

Confidence! <3
I think after reading this I will rethink ever saying "but" again.

Heather Long said...

Brava! Brava!

Thank you for the wonderful blog.

Not buts about it.

Carla Swafford said...

I was so glad to read this, JoAnn. You have so many fine qualities and you're a talented lady. Too many times I wanted to shake you when you would beat yourself up. :::sigh::: Hugs.

Sherry Werth said...

Lately I have been trying to catch myself on this very same thing. After a compliment, I always seem to make an excuse for it. But I never thought about that it might offend the giver. That will surely make me think about it from now on.

Christine said...

Just smile and wave--like the Madagascar Penguins... great post!! Just say thank you and leave it at that...

KELLY FITZPATRICK said...

Good luck with that. I'd need one of those shock collars to change my self depricating ways. I turn everything into a joke. Example. My wedding: everyone said I looked beautiful. I said I could look beautiful everyday if I had a team of make-up artist and hair dressers like I did that morning. Heaven help us.

Diane Richmond said...

Isn't it wonderful to figure something out by yourself? The things we do, or don't do, are ingrained and a part of the sum total of our experiences. Figuring out that we deserve the compliments that others bestow upon us is a big realization, especially for those of us raised to be humble and self-deprecating. Congratulations JoAnn!

Diane Richmond said...

Isn't it wonderful to figure something out by yourself? The things we do, or don't do, are ingrained and a part of the sum total of our experiences. Figuring out that we deserve the compliments that others bestow upon us is a big realization, especially for those of us raised to be humble and self-deprecating. Congratulations JoAnn!