I always cry at curtain calls. I just can’t seem to keep my eyes dry when the performers bow and the audience applauds. It is such a beautiful display of mutual gratitude. The performers put their hearts out for you to see, they make an offering of their talent and hope that it will be well received. The audience is inspired, moved, elated by their offering. In the end the audience claps as if to say “thank you, we received your gift and appreciate it” and the actors bow as if to say “thank you for being here and hearing what we had to say.” It is the perfect exchange of … well, of love.
When someone gives you a compliment they are somewhat like the actors on the stage. They are offering you their appreciation, putting their feelings out there to be received. And how do we receive that compliment? Sometimes we boo at them (it is nothing, oh please, don’t be silly), sometimes we heckle them as liars (no I’m not, you’re just saying that, you’re crazy), sometimes we offer tepid applause (mumbling “thanks” and looking away) and sometimes we cheer (thank you, you’ve made my day, I so appreciate you saying that!).
Let’s face it, we all want to be cheered! I don’t think we realize that dismissing someone’s compliment is akin to rejection. We are looking at it from our side only. If we feel some doubt or insecurity we have a hard time accepting their praise. Or we want to be humble so we downplay what they are saying. But if we flip it around, if we think of it from their side, they want to be heard!
A successful theatrical experience is a harmonious relationship between the audience and the actors. It has a magic all its own and can never be recreated. Just like our personal relationships. We love many people but each love is special. We have something to give and to receive within the relationship that is unique. One way we celebrate that precious connection is by exchanging appreciation. We compliment one another.
This month, when you receive a compliment (and you will!), say thank you. Take them at their word. Whether they are admiring your shoes or celebrating your brilliance, they are offering you love! Be a good audience member. Stand up and cheer!
This was originally posted in May of 2012
photo by Ant1_G