Remember "warm fuzzies" and "cold pricklies"? They are among the simplified concepts that made Thomas Harris's I'm OK - You're OK a best-seller in the early 1970s. It's one of the biggest-selling self-help books ever, according to Wikipedia. Harris set out to popularize the theory of Transactional Analysis (TA). I'm not saying it was a good book; I'm just saying I learned these things:
* It's better to give (and receive) "warm fuzzies" than "cold pricklies." A boyfriend at the time told me I had a tendency to do the cold and prickly. Who knew?
* If someone pays you a compliment, accept it. To shrug it off, feign modesty, or--worst of all--ignore it is to repay a warm fuzzy with a cold prickly. It does not make you humble; it makes you ungrateful. I took that to heart from that day to this. I remember organizing and emceeing a day-long women's movement conference that was very well received. At the end of the day I got a wonderful ovation and I stood in the warm spotlight and drank it in. I opened myself to it, and I never turned off that switch.
* In our relationships, we get into certain habits and comfort levels. Simple example: If you are in the habit of nodding and smiling at a coworker once each day, and then you stop and have a conversation, you will tend to pass without acknowledging one another a few times, until you feel you have rebalanced the contact to an appropriate level. See Rituals.
* People play interpersonal games that are often unproductive. "Yes, but" is a common favorite. Someone complains about a situation. A well-meaning individual suggests, "Why don't you try x?" The complainer says, "Yes, but I can't because blah blah." No matter how many suggestions the friend makes, the complainer has an excuse for all of them. I sometimes catch myself playing "yes, but," and I'm usually able to stop and say, "Thanks for the suggestions, I guess I just wanted to vent." Or I recognize that someone else is playing it and I can change the subject or walk away. I think it's the one such game I recognize quickly.
TA offered many other theories, a lot based on Adult, Parent, and Child ego states. Some of it has survived, some has been discounted. One thing remains true: If someone pays you a compliment, acknowledge it. Revel in it, even.