Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Accepting compliments well is a skill that can be learned

by Rick Blechta

Let me state right off the bat, that I don’t get compliments on my writing all that often. Like Aline and everyone else who’s commented, they’re wonderful when they come and they should be cherished, because the vast majority of them are sincerely meant and that feedback is very special to all of us who create.
But you do need to think ahead of time about how you’ll respond when this sort of thing happens.

I got an early start on accepting compliments because I was performing in public at a very early age. When I turned professional at age 16, I got a lot of compliments. “You play so well!” was the most frequent one, but it didn’t take long to realize that an important part of the compliment was unsaid: “for someone so young”, because saying that would have been rude. Believe me, though, I was a real baby face and looked only about 14 at the time.

Anyway, it was obvious that I needed to figure out how to respond. I worked out something similar to Aline and Frankie. I’d been taught self-aggrandizement was not a good thing, so even if I thought I had played really well, I couldn’t come right out and say it – although I’m sure I did that occasionally in those early years.

The one thing that really helped me, though, was done behind the scenes. One of my French horn teachers heard the parent of a friend compliment me on something I’d played during a concert. He felt my response was far from adequate. Next lesson, I played very little of my prepared work, but instead he spoke to me at length about etiquette and why we do what we do and say what we say — especially in the musical world. It really opened my eyes.

It’s not that my parents brought me up poorly in this regard, but he felt that there was specific knowledge that a performer needed, and he felt that it was a big part of my musical education that I be tutored in this as well as playing my instrument.

It was my secret weapon and to this day, whenever someone compliments me, my first thought is that I have received something very special, but to also immediately express my gratitude that the person has said it.


Donis Casey said...

I agree that expressing gratitude for a compliment is incredibly important. I always mention to complimenters that writing is a solitary business and it's gracious people like them who keep me going.

Rick Blechta said...

That's a very good point -- and so true. Thanks!