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How Good Are You at Receiving?

In this season of gift-giving, you probably already know how to give well (no judgment if you don't). But how good are you at receiving well? Sometimes this is the best gift of all.

If you want better relationships with others, as well as yourself, here are three key areas where it's good to know how to be a gracious receiver.

1. Gifts (of course)

Whether it's by phone, in an email, in a hug or a handwritten note, what matters is not so much the formality of your thank-you as the fact that you smile and say thank you. Not to acknowledge a gift is unacceptable.

Even after thanking the giver on the spot, I would still follow up in some manner. The point is simply to let the gift-giver know how much the gift meant to you and/or how much you'll enjoy it.

But what if someone gives you something you won't enjoy? A fruitcake, for example, or a book of bad poetry? You can still mention the gift by name and find something good to say.

Granted, this can be a challenge.

As an example, over a decade ago on Valentine's Day, a guy in my office building left a box of chocolates on my desk. Imagine opening the box and finding the pre-printed message, "Thank you for being a Sears Best Customer."

I thanked him nicely for his "sweet" gesture, as well I should have. And I didn't mention that the chocolates were hand-me-downs. How could I? Especially when he was a friend (not to mention a Sears Best Customer). ;-)

2. Compliments

Who among us hasn't struggled with this one? For whatever reason—fear of looking vain perhaps—it can feel awkward to extend a simple "Thank you" in response to praise.

But a gracious "Thank you" is usually all that's needed. Put another way, have you ever given a compliment that somehow backfired? No fun.

Whether it's at work, with family or friends, or from a total stranger, it behooves us to master the fine art of receiving compliments gracefully.

3. Constructive feedback

Dr. Henry Cloud says feedback is the breakfast of champions—and I think we get what he's saying. We have to be willing to hear feedback, make changes when called for, and even seek out feedback from those around us.

On the other hand, we must also learn how to discern feedback. If we do, we'll neither be stuck in our ways nor tossed by every wind—that is, by every bit of feedback from the ever-more-opinionated outside world.

One way to discern feedback is to look for patterns. If one person tells you something harsh, it may have more to do with that person. But if you hear the same feedback from multiple sources, especially unrelated sources, it might be time to ask "What can I learn from this?"

As with gifts and compliments, sometimes the best response to feedback you might rather not hear is a simple "Thank you." If you can learn from it, you've just received a gift. And if the feedback or criticism is unmerited, you've just received another lesson in setting healthy boundaries.

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Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at