Sunday, April 10, 2011

Arrogance in America

As a psychology major I had the pleasure of studying, in depth, what is considered “normal” and found that it is an extremely complex concept. What is viewed as normal varies in each culture, society, neighborhood and even family.

I am definitely not normal in my family, but my family is probably not normal in society… Ergo… I am normal in society?

In America, it’s considered normal to respond to a compliment by saying, “thank you”. Any other reply is viewed as having low self esteem. I am in the business of teaching social skills to teenagers. One of the skills I promote is…

Accepting Compliments
1) Look at the person who is complimenting you
2) Use a pleasant tone of voice
3) Thank the person sincerely for the compliment
4) Say “thank you for noticing” or “I appreciate that”
5) Avoid looking away, mumbling, or denying the compliment

These are solid steps to help any self conscious teen learn to have confidence in themselves.

On the other hand, I have had to replace step number 5 with…

6) Avoid boasting, bragging, or saying “I know”

But I feel we can generally say that steps 1-4 are proper “accepting a compliment” etiquette.

In college I also had the pleasure of taking a Cross-Culture Communications class as part of my International Studies major. This was to be my 3rd Bachelor’s Degree. (Before you begin to be impressed, I had to drop out and didn’t even get my second degree. Ok, you may still be impressed if you’d like) While in this class we discussed the differences in the way people communicate and we specifically talked about how different cultures regard compliments.

In France the above mentioned steps are HIGHLY arrogant. The proper response is blatant disregard. I imagine the skills steps would be…

Accepting Compliments *France Eddition*
1) Look at the ground
2) Use a muffled tone of voice
3) Deny the compliment emphatically
4) Say “what this old thing” or “ugh, I hate this shirt”
5) Avoid showing appreciation, pride in your possessions, or smiling.

With all this in mind, I know I’m not very “normal” socially, but if you compliment me I will say “Thank You”, I’m just that arrogant. So I guess, in the scheme of things… I AM normal… Yes!

This is a major accomplishment for the weird girl who likes to touch plants and paintings.

God bless America where arrogance is “normal” and socially acceptable.


Megan said...

It's a huge pet-peeve of mine when someone denies a compliment. Instead of seeming modest you just seem rude, seriously? Just say thank you, even if you don't agree with their compliment.

Marie said...

guess I have been French for most of my life. Being a more 'normal' American with accepting compliments has been my latest efforts the past few years. Old dogs/people can still learn new tricks. :)