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Jason Steinhauser
Jason Steinhauser

Posted on

I Don't Know How To Take Compliments

Today was a good day. My wife complimented me in my new shirt and pants (totally rocking some floral print), I helped a coworker with design on a different project, and I wrapped up a proposal and thanked a coworker for his assistance. I can handle my wife's compliments... but I wasn't sure how to deal with the other two situations.

What Happened?

My coworker asked me about handling role-based view components. We white-boarded it for a few minutes, and I finally mentioned that we could just use the role names as map keys and the values as components that role had access to as a list. We finally settled on (as his idea) the map values being another map which contained boolean properties that we could use in an ngIf so that there was constant lookup time and minimal logic in his view. He said to me "I've had to do role-based management on several different projects, and this is by far the cleanest way I've ever seen it done. Thanks for your help!"

So what's wrong with that?

I don't really feel like the credit is all mine. His idea was half of the implementation, and the last part to make the lookup constant time instead of linear time. It's not a big deal, considering we have few components and roles right now, but still! Half of the idea was his. It doesn't feel like anything incredible, honestly. I was just doing my job. I mean, I reminded him that he was part of the solution, but I still felt a little... not really embarrassed? More like sheepish, I guess?

Anything Else?

Another coworker had been helping me work on my proposal and I pulled him in at the last minute to help, and I apologized to him up front for not engaging him earlier. After we wrapped everything up and I went to his desk to thank him for his help and apologized again for roping him in so late. He said "Well, I definitely appreciate you thanking me. A lot of people expect me to just drop what I'm doing even with late notice, but I appreciate your courtesy."

AND?!?!

I blushed when he thanked me for being courteous and told him, "Well, I didn't know what else to do but apologize and thank you." And I just really didn't think that what I did was extraordinary by any means. I thought it was... well... just what should happen.

So what are you getting at?

The first situation, where I helped my friend/coworker with a design issue... I can handle relatively well. I did help him with something, and he finished out the idea. I'm totally fine for taking the partial credit for a good idea, but I really just felt like I was doing my job... nothing special.

The second situation, however, I can't really get past that one. I was raised to be polite to everyone who is providing you service - a waiter, a mechanic, a coworker - and so it made me uneasy to know that I was the exception rather than the rule when it came to showing appreciation.

Is it wrong to feel like this? To feel like what you think is common courtesy or just doing your job is praised? Have any of y'all experienced this feeling and worked through it? I'd love to hear some feedback!

Top comments (16)

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited on

It used to be impossible for me to take a compliment. I would always try to point out something I did wrong or could have done better to invalidate it. However, eventually I realized that the compliment (especially thanks) is a not an evaluation of me. It is an expression of the person's feeling at that moment. I might not deem my contribution worthy, but it is nonetheless their expression. From that perspective, I don't want to stifle them by trying to invalidate it. So nowadays I respond with a positive affirmation.

P.S. I just noticed you are in HSV too. πŸ‘‹

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

Another 256-er! 🍻

I think may be an effective strategy, to remember that their thanks is an expression of someone else's feelings. I'll have to give it a serious try. Thanks!

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

What are the odds, and both F# devs too.

Thanks!

πŸ˜‚

Anytime!

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

Oh, nice! I only know one other F# developer in town from HuntFunc, the functional programmers monthly lunch and learn. There's not many of us in town surprisingly

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

Ah, cool. I'll have to check that out. I work in Decatur at the moment (live in Huntsville), so lunch would be difficult to make. But if it's open to visitors, I will drop by when I get a chance.

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

We're definitely open to whoever wants to join us. I'll PM you more details

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titaniumtester profile image
The YorkiBar Kid

It depends where the compliment comes from. If it's from a complete utter incompetent member of the team, I'm somewhat insulted; However if I get a complement from a member of the team that greatly admire and respect, then bring it on... I've matched their high expectations.

I give compliments all the time especially to junior members of my team as they can sometimes feel overwhelmed with the project that we're working on.

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

I try to compliment the junior and mid-level devs as much as possible, and help them out with whichever issues they're struggling through. I don't mind sincere compliments, even from team members that are sub-par; that means that they're respectful and possibly learning.

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smuschel profile image
smuschel • Edited on

For me, it's harder to accept a compliment or a thank you when it's for something I enjoyed doing. And if people thank me for almost everything it starts losing its value. But nonetheless solving a problem like the role-thing you mentioned is worth something to the person you've helped. Even if you only did a part of the job.
I've once been told that you have to be able to endure criticism, but you also have to be able to endure praise/compliments.
Also:in any social interaction, small things make a difference (for example on Sysadmin day I thank my sysadmin which usually puts a smile on his face)

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

I wasn't aware there was a Sysadmin day. I'll have to take the time to thank ours next year!

You're absolutely right about enduring praise; I can take substantial criticism, but I'll have to work on accepting kind words as well.

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twigman08 profile image
Chad Smith

For me it depends who gave the compliment. If it's my boss or someone higher up I take it and feel great but just say "it's no problem at all. It's what I'm supposed to do."

With other co-workers we tend to have a running "joke" through the office and meme where we call each other "experts" in different areas. So if I help them out with a certain area and they thank me I joke around with them by saying "of course, cause I'm the such-and-such expert. Keeps it light but we know they are accepting it.

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jdsteinhauser profile image
Jason Steinhauser Author

It's definitely worth trying, at least once, with the right coworkers. I may give it a try!

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awwsmm profile image
Andrew (he/him)

I think it's normal for anyone who's not a gigantic narcissist to have some difficulty accepting compliments. I would find it odd if I weren't embarrassed, at least a tiny bit, by things like that.

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twigman08 profile image
Chad Smith

We actually tend to have something similar around our office and making a "joke" with a compliment

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