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I wrote one of my all-time favorite blog posts about a year ago. It was actually FNBB 8 titled “You’re a Savage. Classy. Bougie. Ratchet”. Go back and take a listen, but it is basically about how we can be hesitant in accepting compliments. If we accept, what does that say about us? If we question the compliment, how does that make the giver feel? Giving and receiving compliments is an exchange of energy between two people and can be powerful.
But what happens when someone compliments you too much? Is there such a thing? What happens when an excessive complimenting crosses the line?
If you’re not sure where I’m going, I’ve got a great little story for you. And it starts with my sister. If you have listened to my podcast this past year, you’ll know that in Episode 28 of The New Old You I sat down with my sis, Cathy, to talk about weight loss after 50. At the time she was well on the way to losing a hundred pounds. That is 1 – 0 – 0 pounds. Just this week her scale dipped into the ONEderful numbers, the first time her scale has read out a number starting with a ONE since college.
Last week she was attending an event in our hometown of Frankfort with other women. As they sat around networking, she noticed someone at the table that she had known from back in her past. This woman, I’ll call her Jane, also seemed to recognize Cathy as she stared at her from across the table. Suddenly, in front of all of these other women, Jane blurted out to my sister, “You are stunning. I mean it. Your hair, your face, the face, all of it. Just stunning.”
Well, of course Cathy being the Savage 50+ that she is, thanked her for the compliment and reminded her of how they actually knew each other from way back. Jane was astounded and began to repeat again about how stunning Cathy is. Again, my sister thanked her and tried to turn the conversation as others at the table were obviously starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
“No Really. You look amazing.” On and on it went as it was helped along by alcohol consumption. When Cathy tried to remove herself from the conversation, Jane says to her, “You don’t believe it, do you?” If you know my sister at all, you KNOW that she believes it and told Jane as such. But still Jane persisted with the compliments. “I just can’t believe how stunning you look.”
Compliments are awesome and we should definitely accept them when given. But machine gun complimenting has a funky undertone. Too many and they don’t seem genuine. Or too many and it feels like this person can’t believe we were ever strong enough or capable enough to achieve something.
Excessive compliments have that backsliding capability. They build and it’s all positive till you reach the point of maximum effect. Then just one more word sends the feeling and atmosphere plummeting down the other side.
And suddenly this energy exchange that was happening becomes toxic and one that could throw you into turmoil yourself. That sucks, because this isn’t your issue. And that’s the thing to remember. Accept the positive words that people offer, but if it gets funky, immediately realize that they are revealing some issue that they have with themselves. Having the ability to recognize this is a huge part of growing from change.
I believe the best way to handle this situation is assure this person that change is possible for anyone and if she or they need any pointers on achieving this type of change for themselves, that you would be happy to help them. Is that passive-aggressive? It could be seen that way, unless you really mean it. Like really want to help the other person. And how awesome would it be to help someone else feel as Savage as you do.
Note that I asked my sister for permission to tell this story. She was fast to give me permission with the caveat that I needed to let everyone know how absolutely stunning she is. To me, she always has been, but Jane is just figuring that out.
Till next week –
The LINK to this week’s podcast version:
Redesigning Midlife Weekly Update
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