My dad used to advise me to, “Just say thank you!” This was always in response to the fact that I would go into all sorts of strange gyrations after being given a compliment.
“I like your dress.”
Me: “Oh…it’s old,” or, “I got it on sale. It was cheap!”
“Your hair looks great.”
Me: “I don’t know. I think it’s too long, and I’m not really sure about the bangs.”
Dad said that every time I give this kind of response, it’s a rejection of the compliment. It’s like if someone throws you a nice gift, and, instead of catching it, you just hit it straight back at them. Instead, he said, I should catch the gift and say thanks!
I’ve worked on my response to compliments, thanks to my dad’s direct and honest feedback, and I’m getting better. Now, when someone gives me a compliment, I try to take a deep breath, give myself a minute, and just say, “Thank you.” It’s hard, but I do it. It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.
Last week, I attended a conference on instructional coaching. One of the activities had to do with listening. The activity was simple enough. We were in partnerships. One partner was to talk for a few minutes, and the other partner was to listen. By listen, the presenter meant that we were to say nothing. NOTHING! This sounds easy, but it was really hard for me. I do know this about myself, and I have received some feedback about it recently. At about two thirds of the way into a conversation, I often jump in, anticipating where the speaker is headed. I don’t know if I’m being impatient, trying to lean in, trying to encourage, or trying to understand, but I know it’s wrong. I know that I don’t know where the speaker is headed or where they might go if I just listened. I imagine, like with the compliment, the speaker probably feels somewhat rejected when I jump in.
So now I’m working on my listening. At meetings, I’m saying to myself, “Just listen!” I’ve had to coach myself to stay quiet, jot in my notebook if I’m about to jump in, even place my hand over my mouth to remind myself to be quiet. It’s hard, but I’m doing it. It’s hard, but it’s definitely right.
I’m thinking that maybe my One Little Word for 2020 should be LISTEN.