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The Lost “Thank You”

July 6, 2009 (6 hours ago) by Guest Authors  


By: Heba Alshareef


I have a gripe with people who can’t accept compliments. It stems from an incident many Eids ago when I mentioned to an acquaintance how lovely she looked that day, and she shrugged it off as if I’d insulted her and replied sarcastically, “right Heba, you must be looking into a mirror.” Perhaps she meant to compliment me back, but the opposite happened. I felt like my gift had been demeaned and in her rebuff, she’d accused me of insincerity. Perhaps she meant to seem humble, but instead she seemed ungrateful and cynical. Perhaps she really did have self-esteem issues and somehow she chose to take it out on my nice words.


Because the fact is that they really were nice words, and I really did mean them sincerely, and had she responded with a gracious “thank you” instead, I wouldn’t be holding onto such a grievance for such a long time. I mean, I even moan about it in front of live audiences; and close friends know that if I offer you a compliment, you better take it gracefully.


Still, people who communicate with others as a part of their job descriptions can be notoriously introspective, and I’m not an exception. When the message doesn’t go through the way we would have liked it to, we wonder, “can something be changed?” Is there a better way to communicate a compliment?


I think there is and indeed if each of us can learn to dole out niceties more often, then our lives and those around us (including the eid goers who should by default be in celebratory mode) might be brighter inshaAllah.


The truth is that takes confidence and self-esteem to notice good things about others and to make the first sincere move to tell them about it. Compliments are indeed gifts that we own and no matter what people choose to do with them, we are better because we’ve given them. Also, when you start noticing the good in others, you start recognizing it in yourself more as well, and recognizing your own goodness will lead you to good acts that will be, by the mercy of Allah SWT, the kind to lead you in to prosperity in this life and the next.


Positivity breeds positivity and as the prophet Muhammad SAW has said, “give gifts to one another as this will make you love one another.” (Muslim)


Here are 4 steps to add oomph to your compliments:


1. Make your compliment specific.


“That shawl looks really beautiful on you” makes a more concrete impact as opposed to “you look lovely this eid day”.


Lesson learned.


2. Back up your compliment.


Don’t just stop at “that shawl looks really good on you”. Your compliment becomes stronger when you say why you think so; “that shawl looks really good on you because it matches your eyes”.


3. Ask a question with your compliment.


And if you’d like to use it as a conversational starter, ask a question about the subject of your compliment; “that shawl looks really good on you because it matches your eyes. Where did you find it?”


Compliments can open so many doors and who knows what wonders lie within?


4. Say “masha Allah” and “tabarak Allah.”


Islamically, we know that this must be a given. It fosters the sense that to deny the compliment is to deny the bounty of Allah SWT. Also, it ensures that our good words are uttered ultimately for the pleasure of our creator. And when HE is pleased with us, we do things without seeking the reward from others.


Putting more effort into our compliments helps us foster optimism and encourages positivity in all dealings with friends, family members, and co-workers. The benefits are limitless, the biggest one being that we ensure that we won’t spend years holding others responsible for the lost “thank you”.




Heba Alshareef is the author of Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba! The Muslim woman’s Guide to leading her Best Life. Visit her online at .



One Response to “The Lost “Thank You””

A'ishah says:

Today at 4:15 am (6 hours ago)

Thank you for saying this. I personally have a problem taking compliments, partly because I have always had issues with self-esteem that I am only coming to terms with slowly. It also seems to be a “thing” - at least where I live in America…well, really, it seems it’s practically considered egotistical these days to accept a compliment, especially with an inkling that one believes the truth behind it. At least, that’s what scares me.


I have this sister who is just amazing, who I look up to. She helped me so much when I first reverted and she’s still an amazing friend and guide. I know it upsets me because she never accepts compliments from me and always says things about how we should be humble, as Muslims, and points out her shortcomings, as she sees them. She’s been having some trouble with things the last couple of years, especially because she’s unmarried as of yet and she (and her parents) want her to be. But she really is beautiful inside and out, masha’Allah. Is there any way we can help others come to accept compliments? At least situations like these, and articles like yours, help me see what others are going through when we don’t accept their compliments.

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