Personal Insights: Come on Ireland, why not take a compliment for a change

After living in Ireland for 15 years Polish native, Anna Dokurno, reflects on the Irish inability to take a compliment and many of her own countrymen's inability to give them.

File image: Pic: iStock
File image: Pic: iStock

I often ask myself why are the Irish so bad at taking a compliment?

Maybe there's something in the traditional Catholic upbringing that makes you unable to easily notice, accept and acknowledge anything good that is said about you.

Many Polish people are very similar, but we have found the perfect workaround for the problem - we just don’t give compliments.

Communication in my country of origin can be much more direct and can sometimes even seem harsh. We have no time for pleasantries you see.

With both these things in mind I am making a conscious effort to adapt and trying hard to pass some compliments as part of my day...

My section’s printer is in the hall, so a lot of co-workers pass by and I try to add something pleasant to the generic small talk if I can.

Usually it is a colourful scarf, piece of jewellery, flowery shirt and basically anything involving bright colours, flowers, or a bit of a sparkle.

These pleasantries brighten my day and in general make office life a bit easier.

I have noticed, however, that the replies usually fall into two categories ... the item in question is either from Penny's or is very, very old.

Makes you wonder if anything was ever bought in Ireland for more than €20.

Sometimes I'm even tempted to adapt my approach in light of this and walk up to someone and say 'you must have got that dirt cheap' or 'that must be so old'.

I haven't as yet but I often wonder why we make it hard on the person giving a compliment?

A simple 'thank you' would be so much easier.

It would appear, however, that living in Ireland is rubbing off on me.

When an Irish charmer told me recently I had a lovely smile, I replied: 'That old thing? Got it at Penny's.'

This submission is part of a new digital initiative on irishexaminer.com called Personal Insights.
As part of the Personal Insights initiative we are asking readers, creative writing groups and writing enthusiasts in general to share personal essays chronicling an experience which has impacted their lives and any learnings from that life experience they would like to share with a wider audience.
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Our goal is to publish one submission per week and use all our powers to make sure it is seen by as wide an audience as possible.
We look forward to reading your stories.

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