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Of compliments and appreciation

While growing up, I had often felt that the elders around me didn't believe in complimenting the youngsters much. Their policy was just to acknowledge the achievements and keep the kids grounded to reality. I think that they believed too much appreciation and compliments could go into one's head and could spoil the child altogether. This policy was religiously followed in the case of one's own child. But in the case of other children, the rule was a bit lenient as they were  showered with some kind of praise and compliment. Mostly, the praises were reserved for others and not one's own people.

I don't remember my sisters being showered with accolades when they brought home numerous prizes and certificates of merit. I need not tell you that the few certificates I got were also welcomed with the same lukewarm appreciation. Only later could I read the pride and joy of our achievements from their faces. I could see their eyes brightening up when we did something worthwhile. Yet, words and actions of appreciation remained elusive...

When I became a parent, initially I too followed the policy of less appreciation because I didn't want my kids to think their achievements are the greatest, and stop trying to do better. But then, I observed my kids' friends getting much more appreciation for lesser achievements. It was an eye-opener. I was reminded how I longed for some special appreciation from my people when I was young. That changed my perspective.

I started appreciating and complimenting them for their efforts. Of course, it was tough for me to say 'well-done' or 'good job' when they performed beneath my expectations (to be fair to them, like a typical indian parent, I had my expectations set high). I could see my words working magic in them. For one, they were happy to be recognized. Secondly, it brought in them a feeling they can do it. They knew even if they try and fail, they'll still have a mom who'd welcome them with a smile and a pat on their backs for the effort given. So, I saw for myself how a small change in my attitude and behavior made positive changes in them. I know neither they nor I are perfect. But for me, that was ok. I wasn't searching for perfection. 

By complimenting them on their achievements and effort, I could show them the positive side of it. And of course, I too started getting compliments for the little day to day things I did. Boy, didn't that make me happy?!!!!

The other day a friend asked me 'you seem to like getting complements a lot, don't you?' This was soon after I thanked him for his appreciation of something I did. I replied: 'I think when someone gives me a genuine compliment, I should accept it wholeheartedly and thank that person. Yes, I am happy to receive compliments from you because I know you are not saying it for the sake of it. Being a subject expert, your words have a greater imapct on me and I believe I should thank you and let you know how genuinely happy I am.'

This incident made me think. In general, we are not used to giving and receiving compliments. If someone give us a compliment, we don't accept it with a thank you and move on. Instead, we try to tell him/her why we are not worthy of the praise. If it is about the dress we are wearing, we will try to say it is because of the color, material or even the place we purchased it that it is looking good. We take pains to explain why we aren't worthy of the compliment.

We should have just said thank you and ended the matter there. But, as we are not used to receiving complements, we feel it is wrong to get one and we try to find excuses for not deserving one! That is the saddest part - we can't even take some genuine appreciation for what it is. Instead we will go out of way to prove why we aren't worth the praise.

So, the next time someone give you a compliment or praise you, accept it with a smile and a 'thank you'. Believe me, you are worth it. And, as you discover the joy of accepting compliments, start giving compliments too. That is also as good as receiving one. To see the unexpected smile and happiness on the other person's face is one of the greatest rewards you can ever ask for. Start giving genuine compliments. You will find you are happy doing that instead of bottling it up inside you.

To end, let me say this as well - if at all you feel you have to give some constructive criticism to anyone, do it personally and in private. But if you want to appreciate someone, do it in front of others.

Start giving compliments - to your kids, friends, families. Soon you'll also receive your share of compliments and will cease to feel embarrassed about it.  It is a wonderful world out there if we appreciate and acknowledge the goodness in others. 

Why not make a start now? My comment section is waiting 😊


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