The Gift of Receiving

Notes from Janey . . .

Recently, we were at a holiday gathering. The house was immaculate. The food superb. The guest list fascinating. The hostess was gracious and beautiful with everything under control and apparently running smoothly.

After dinner I found myself relaxing at a table with a few women, the hostess included. While a band of musicians were tuning up for an impromptu jam, a close friend of hers leaned over, put her hand on the hostess’s arm and commented what a wonderful party it was.
“I had a lot of help,” she said, deflecting the compliment with practiced ease.

This was not the first time I had heard her do this. Remembering the guided tour through the newly built house earlier, Tupelo commented how tasteful it was.
“We still have quite a bit to do,” she said, waving his impression away and turning to go up the stairs.

Later I heard someone congratulate her on receiving a major award in her profession.
“Oh, it wasn’t any big deal.”
But it was. She got major publicity and recognition, and rightly so. It proved she was exceptional in her profession and was honored for it.

I wondered why a talented woman like her was not able to accept a well-meaning compliment. What made her so uncomfortable? Did she think she would come off boastful or egotistical?

Another experience taught me how giving and receiving compliments could be perceived differently. While attending a good friend’s birthday party, the guests gathered in a circle, arm in arm. In a spontaneous gesture, one of the guests told her how much he appreciated her and how grateful he was that she was his friend. One by one, each in turn, told my friend the difference she had made in their life, myself included.
I was amazed and amused watching her accepting each comment, each heartfelt admission, every extremely personal confession. I thought she would crumble from so much gratitude and love, or try to dodge, duck and tumble out of the way of all the intense attention. But she didn’t.
Somehow she accepted each person’s love and radiated it back to them. There was no ego involved. It was beautiful to witness.

Here is the basic difference between these two women: My friend didn’t deflect any of the personal comments made to her, and by doing so, she honored the giver.

For many, it takes quite a bit of fortitude to voice an opinion, express their true feelings, or tell someone how much they care. Deflecting these admissions, for whatever reason, dishonors the giver and leaves the compliment hanging, useless and impotent.

So here is what I suggest if you are like the talented hostess: Next time someone gives you a compliment, smile a heartfelt smile and say a simple, “Thank you.” That’s all you have to do. You will honor the giver by doing this and you will both feel better for it.

Open yourself up to hear what others have to say about you and love will shine through everything you do.


Thank you.

(Article and photo by Janey Wing Kenyon)

This is the end of the article entitled The Gift of Receiving published by Tupelo Kenyon on April 10, 2009 at 5:00 am | In Communication, Relationships, Self-Image - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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