The Irish Don’t Do Compliments

I’ve never really considered myself to be patriotic. I don’t have a great understanding of Irish history. I’m not a native speaker. The game of Hurling and the furore that goes with it, is well over my head. I don’t like spuds nor do I drink tea. I couldn’t tell you when lambing season is, having only recently learned that there was even such a thing. I don’t go to mass and I don’t bless myself when an ambulance passes. I’m no expert on the subject but I would consider many of the aforementioned items good indicators of Irishness.

Another well known characteristic of being Irish is our inability to take a compliment.

You see as Irish people we are inherently negative.

Not in a miserable way of course but in a charming way that adds to our unique standing in the world. So when somebody says something good about us we just don’t know how to cope. Whether it’s our appearance, a talent or our parenting, we turn into mortified eejits and play down the nicety as best we can.

So in order to survive the horror that is a compliment there are a few things that you can do.

When someone praises your clothing choice, don’t play it down and pretend that you didn’t spend three weeks planning it. As soon as you knew you were going to an event we all know that you scrutinised your wardrobe. Admit it.

You planned everything out from your knickers to your necklace.

Also don’t go through the cost and the shop that you got everything in. We’ve all responded ‘Oh thanks €12 Penneys sure you can’t go wrong!’. I think the best response is simply Thank You.

When someone wants to compliment you on your appearance the first thing they’ll usually do is ask if you have got something done? So the conversation will begin with.

‘ Did you get your hair cut?’

Please, please resist the urge to be smart and respond with such beauties like.

‘No shit Sherlock?’

‘ No it just fell off!’

‘No I just got into a row with a lawnmower.’

Take a breath and admit to the change, the person will follow with something positive, we hope, and again the simple Thank you works a treat.

Lastly and the most difficult one I find to accept is when someone compliments your parenting or your children.  You see in our Irishness it used to be the case that your children were always divils. This is not the case anymore. People put effort into parenting in this day and age. Now I’m not saying that past generations didn’t, it was just different times and wasn’t so academic. There weren’t studies on controlled crying and co sleeping. You just got on with life and it was physically a tougher time.  There was no social media and the pressures were different.

When someone tells you that you have lovely children or that they have good manners, don’t dive into all the bad things that they did the week before or how many times the middle one has wet the bed.

Be proud as punch.

If a person has taken the time to notice something positive in your children, take credit because some of it may be luck and somewhere, somehow, it may be down to your hard graft. So puff out your chest and feel giddy inside that the parenting skills that you spend the night feeling inadequate about may be not so bad after all. Oh and don’t forget to just say Thank You.


4 thoughts on “The Irish Don’t Do Compliments

  1. I use to be rubbish at accepting compliments. I still dont do it very well, but I remember reading somewhere that a simple thank you (as you suggest) is the perfect response to a compliment, because it acknowledges the compliment gracefully without actually agreeing with it.


  2. I’m terrible at accepting compliments I’m an awful “oh this old thing” er. However when someone compliments my kids, I do accept that with a huge smile as that makes me feel immensely proud!


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