"Hello mummy, you look pretty!"
I can’t even begin to express what hearing those words meant to me as I walked through the door after a long commute the other day. Especially coming from one so small, and in context. I looked to my husband after the glow of such unabashed warmth slowly dissipated and asked whether he’d put my almost-three-year-old son up to it, and he denied all knowledge. He was as surprised as I was by the purity and spontaneity of the sweet compliment.
It’s funny how a few small words from my son’s mouth made such a profound impression on me. It got me thinking about how an authentic compliment or simply expressed words of acknowledgement can often mean so much. I believe, when authentically given, acknowledgement is a powerful, life-affirming tool. In these time-poor days we seem to live, taking a few seconds out to appreciate or thank someone not only supports us in being in an ‘attitude of gratitude’ but provides the receiver of that acknowledgement with some deserved appreciation. Acknowledging someone, in conversation for example, allows them to feel really listened to and understood.
There is something great about giving and receiving acknowledgement. A dictionary definition I found says of the word: acceptance of the truth or existence of something; recognition of the importance or quality of something; the expression of gratitude or appreciation for something; the action of showing that one has noticed someone or something.
The problem comes when as the recipient you don’t accept what is being said. I wonder how many of you reading this blog have done the classic refusal to accept fully the compliment being paid to you… How often have your replied, when offered a nice word on what you’re wearing and said:”Oh, this old thing? Had it for years…” Or after a pleasant admiring comment on how well you look, “Really? I feel pretty tired actually.” Or how about the one where you are complimented on the food you’ve prepared, “I don’t know, it’s alright – I’ve made it better before.”
By not accepting that compliment or recognition, you are not only denying yourself some soul-felt nourishment, but also you deny the person who is offering that acknowledgment the gift of that expression of gratitude. You are effectively rebuffing the contribution someone is making to you, and minimising it, and most of us really enjoy being a contribution. Instead, you could be soaking it up, enjoying it. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not humble either, or that your pride or ego becomes over-inflated in the process. It just means enjoy credit where it’s due. So in response to a compliment or acknowledgement, you could simply say, ‘thank you’ or ‘you’re welcome’ as it supports the giver and receiver – win-win.
So, to acknowledge someone is a way to reconnect with the world you around, to feel part of something. And to receive and accept that acknowledgement completes that sentiment. We can all feel whole and part of something.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really do appreciate it.