Thoughts: The Art Of Receiving Compliments


I’ve noticed something over the last few years. It seems to me that people are gradually losing the art of receiving compliments.

It could well be isolated within  this New Zealand society I live it, and I haven’t been immersed in other cultures to test this observation, so feel free to let me know either way.

I am one who compliments. I love acknowledging good work, success, and achievement. I love acknowledging when someone has made an effort with their personal appearance and is proud of it. I do my best to lift someone up – even if it’s just a little bit.

As a dad, I know it is incredibly important to compliment my kids. Every little achievement should be noticed and applauded. Even when their team consistently loses by 8 goals, finding the great in the gloom makes a difference.

But even my kids are losing the art of receiving compliments.

My 10 yr old daughter recently won a game of Cluedo against four others. I sent her a text later that day to say I was proud of her winning. Her reply “Yup. Why r u texting me it’s very random”.


I’ve noticed that when I say to someone “You’re looking great” that more often than not the response is along the lines “Yeah… nah” or “I’m fat” or “I’m getting old”. (applies equally to both genders!)

I’ve noticed that if I compliment a female that is significantly younger than me (say, between 20-25) the response is more likely to be guarded than thankful.

This makes me sad.

Are there cultural norms in play here? Are there limitations to who I can compliment or acknowledge that I’m unaware of?

Has society changed to the point where people are now suspicious of someones motives in the first instance if that someone is being nice or kind?

Or is it simply that people have adopted the idea that ‘Not caring about what others think’ to its fullness – which impacts the acceptance of positive as well as protecting from the negative.

I’ve lived a life of thinking of others. I have a personal ethos that I want people to feel better about themselves or be slightly better off having met me. It’s an ethos in which I’m always available to help others if at all possible. (Of course this has caused a few issues where I’ve been taken advantage of, but that’s not common). I want to add to people.

Is this outward-thinking way of life something that has run its course? Does it no longer have a place? Am I actually a dinosaur?

I’m hoping that once again people can learn to just say “Thank you” when complimented. Without qualification or putting a negative spin on it.

Or should I just give up?