I like receiving compliments. Who doesn’t? Truth be told, I’m a little awkward about receiving them, and never really know how to react. I had a girl tell me once that I was adorable and she loved my hair, and I responded by saying, “Thanks, I like your, um, tee-shirt.” Looking back, that could’ve been perceived as an insult rather than a returned compliment, given that I commented on her interchangable clothing and not a feature she was born with. But my awkwardness and shyness at receiving, processing and returning compliments doesn’t mean I don’t like getting them.
With that being said, I am probably worse at giving compliments than I am receiving them. It’s odd to think that an action that provides the recipient with such self-satisfaction and happiness could be difficult for me. And the funny thing is, the majority of the time, I don’t even realize that I should be giving out a compliment until someone prods me to remind me.
Online, it’s easier. I think all communication is actually easier for me online. I can express my emotions easier with text and emoticons than I can with words and expressions, and I’m far less shy. Online, I can easily give compliments to people. But face-to-face, it’s a lot more difficult for me.
Let’s take my favourite of my two room mates as an example. Roomie is a gorgeous, curvy, twenty-something-year-old brunette with designer glasses and a quirky, cute style of dress. Like all other girls, she likes to be complimented.
Every now and then, she’ll come downstairs dressed up ready to go to work (she works as a PR agent in the music/acting industry here), and I’ll consciously make a mental note that she looks really good, astoundingly good sometimes, but for some reason my brain doesn’t process the fact that I am supposed to take that acknowledgement and advise her of it. Other times, I’ll even subconsciously make the assumption that the compliment has already been delivered, and so I often get confused when she asks, “So… do I look okay?” and I reply, “Didn’t I say you did already?!” Lots of times, we would go out and she would do her make-up and ask me halfway through the night, “You didn’t say anything about my make-up, do you not like it?” and it was at that time I realized just how bad I am at forgetting to give compliments even after I have inwardly made a note of and liked something about someone.
With big things, like hair colour changes or cuts, I always have extremely good attention to detail and always notice. Most of the time, I’ll make a compliment without any problems too, because I have noticed and I simply have to point it out. But simple, less-permanent things, like make-up or clothing changes, I will notice and forget to compliment.
Another thing I forget to compliment is people’s talents and actions. Roomie is extremely managerial, and she does a lot to help me organize and schedule my life. She buys me groceries when I’m at work and does her best to ensure my schedule doesn’t change much and, when it does, I have apt notice and the details I need to keep myself from having a blow-out. She’s brilliant with Photoshopping and website coding, and she’s ridiculously smart. And I always forget to compliment her on all of these things, despite knowing that she has all of these talents and watching her use them with awe.
Because of this, in public, I’ve started forcing myself to give unnecessary compliments. There’s a girl at my work who has the strangest, most awesome 50’s style of dress. Every day, I compliment her on her outfit of choice because I’m worried that, if I don’t, I’ll continually forget to compliment her and she might think I’m rude. Over the past week or so, I’ve started complimenting Roomie at every opportunity because I want her to know that I appreciate her. Even if these compliments are a little overexcessive, I’d much rather compliment too much than not at all.
I suppose the point of this blog is to remind you that, if your Aspie doesn’t compliment you for a new hair-cut or a gorgeous job on your make-up, please don’t take it personally and think that they are being rude or ignorant. Chances are they DID notice, and simply forgot to compliment, or thought they already have. I’m not sure how many other Aspies out there have this problem, whether it’s a part of our social awkwardness and ineptness, but I know it’s one for me that irritates me, because I don’t want to appear rude or ignorant of other people’s efforts. I do notice, I just… don’t always remember to let you know out loud that I do!