Good Job

Last week my friend Amy posted about struggling through math with her daughter.  To tell you the truth I lost my train of thought when I read this sentence:

“She smiled back and I thought for the millionth time about what it would feel like to actually believe it when someone told me, “Good job!” I always figure people are just being nice.”

I can’t stop thinking about it, it keeps fluttering around in my head, poking me and asking me how I feel about it. I feel compelled to bullet my thoughts about this so I can clear my head.

  • There is much truth in it.  I have a pretty good B.S. radar, because a lot of people feel compelled to say nice things that they don’t mean for the sake of propriety.  It annoys the heck out of me.
  • Amy is talented, kind, open and carries an amazing strength.  I have a hard time believing she has never accepted a “Good Job” from anyone.
  • I don’t appreciate idle compliments, and for the record, I don’t give them.
  • I believe it takes humility to give a compliment.  The perfectionist in me wants to believe that I can do everything and I can be the best at everything.  It requires humility and the ability to not be threatened by others successes- to give someone else a pat on the back for their achievement.
  • Confidence.  Sometimes compliments are sincere, but unless I believe in my own abilities, I’ll never be able to believe the good that someone else sees.
  • For the longest time in my life I never believed a single person who said something good about me or my abilities.  Growth can sometimes come slowly, but I can honestly say at this point I accept more compliments than I reject.  It is a good place to be.

Amy if you are reading this, try this on for size.  When we talked about your “secret writing party” and I told you how much I appreciated and could identify with your voice, I meant it.

**I know I don’t get a whole lot of comments here, but I would love to hear from you about this one.  I am so in need of a good philosophic discussion. I have spent one too many hours this week having “conversations” with a toddler about the merit of pooping in a potty, not underpants!**


5 Responses to “Good Job”

  1. Chris says:

    I haven’t had this trial, but can see where you would be dismissive of someone’s praise. I have never considered if someone thought I was fake or lying. Rather than parse my praise, I’ve tried to find something real I could recognize whenever I could encourage. Perhaps I’ve been a bit liberal with that, but I’d rather err on the side of more than less.

  2. Hilary says:

    I am awful at taking compliments, and I’m not so great at giving compliments. I really want to be sincere so sometimes I just don’t find anything.
    But I will thank you for just about anything. 🙂
    I don’t really think when someone says “good job” — I guess it just shows me I’m on the right track…

  3. karin says:

    Just so you know, I read every post and comment in my head on every post but with the boys “helping” or just needing attention, the comment does not always make it to the blog.

    I think I have a pretty good BS radar too. And I do not give out compliments just to give them out. I’m working on complimenting more though. I also have a hard time accepting compliments, I’m working on that.

  4. amy says:

    oh heather, this meant so much to me. i am working on a post about it, in fact — in my head — it’s taking a while….. but i wanted to let you know i am really touched by your words. i do think it’s not so much that i 100% doubt a compliment — more that i can’t giddily embrace it the way sophie does…. you know? more to come. xo

  5. Kathleen says:

    hummm … there is so much here. We totally need to meet for a piece of pie and cocoa. We each have a complicated back story when it comes to compliments. As I age, I am trying to do a better job of simply saying thank you when someone pays me a compliment. I fight the urge to qualify or lessen their affections, worried that saying ‘thank you’ is being vain. Rather than appreciating their willingness to think outside themselves and recognize the worth of another and speak. When we do not recognize the worth of another and say something, I am beginning to realize it can be a sign of being too focused on one’s self, too absorbed in what is happening in ones life, rather than what is going on around us and being present in life. I’d never thought of it that way and I am extremely guilty of being too focused on my own life and insecurities rather than valuing those around me and letting them know that I value them.

    On a different note, have you noticed that society has started to give praise for everything a child does — just for participating, not necessarily for trying their hardest or doing their best? It probably stems from a desire not to hurt their self esteem or feelings of self worth. But is it accomplishing what they initially intended? We notice this at the kids chess tournaments. In the younger age grades everyone gets a metal — the same award if you are in the top 10 or the bottom 10. But when you get older, the same accommodations aren’t in place, and yet their self esteem, their feelings of self worth are in my mind more fragile. It seems we’re all seeking for a balance in encouraging hard work, determination and doing our very best, and rewarding great achievement to the few who reach that. And reconciling to ourselves that both are good, acceptable and okay.

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