Do you struggle to accept compliments?
It’s okay if you do. It’s natural. I know I do.
It can feel awkward to receive a compliment. Do I proudly accept? Do I humbly deflect? We can get so caught up in wanting to have the “right” reaction that we completely lose sight of the beautiful, meaningful act of generosity and kindness right there in front of us.
So what can we to do to prepare ourselves for the next time someone offers us a compliment? Having a plan will make that next time a better, more comfortable experience … for both parties.
Executing that plan over time will make it a natural part of how we communicate.
The first step is self-awareness
The first step is to understand why you struggle with compliments.
- You’re a perfectionist and feel like you can always do better — nothing you do is ever good enough.
- You don’t think you’re any good because you’re so experienced with that thing it’s now easy for you. You don’t realise that what’s obvious to you is amazing to others.
- You’re afraid you’ll appear to have a ‘big head’ if you accept the compliment – you’d rather appear modest.
What she’s basically saying, in our terms, is that when you struggle to accept compliments, your primility is out of whack.
Your excessive pride or your neurotic humility is delegitimizing the words of your complimenter. And while your deflection of the compliment might make you feel better or less awkward in the moment, it’s important to stop and think about the impact that has on the person who is generously offering your the compliment.
Don’t make someone else feel rejected because of your own shitty insecurities.
Christina’s words again.
All I would append to that quote is “selfish conceit” … because one of those two feelings, insecurity or conceit, is taking hold when we reject or deflect compliments that are presented to us.
Does this mean that when someone offers us a compliment we have to run to the nearest mountaintop, rip our shirts open to reveal giant “S” symbols, and shout “I accept your compliment because I, [insert your name here], am worthy!”
No … although the mental image is amusing.
Learning to accept compliments is bigger than you
Here, again, are the paraphrased thoughts of Christina, who sums up how to accept a compliment thusly:
- Resist the urge to say “No I’m not!” and instead simply say “Thank you.”
- Follow up by giving praise to something or someone who’s helped you. (e.g. “Thank you, Bill gave me a piece of advice that really helped.” … “Thank you, I’ve been practicing a lot lately.”)
- Own it.
We all want to get compliments when we deserve them. It means we’ve done something good and worthwhile. More importantly, it shows us that our actions had some kind of positive impact on another person.
I means we are creating meaning bigger than ourselves.
And isn’t that why we’re all here?
This is why compliments feel good … when we can peel back whatever layers of pride or humility are preventing us from accepting them and simply embrace their joy.
And a compliment doesn’t just feel good to the person receiving it. It feels good to the person giving it too, when the compliment is well received. Rejected compliments, however, can leave little, tiny, mini scars that may do no individual harm, but over time can make a compliment giver more reluctant to give the next one.
Which is a shame.
The world needs more warm communication loops of kindness, generosity, and appreciation, which is what a compliment given and accepted is.
So even if you don’t want to get more comfortable at accepting compliments for yourself, do it for everyone else … do it to add to the kindness, generosity, and appreciation out there in the world, rather than detracting from it.
And if you think you’re just one person, and what you do can’t or won’t make that much a difference anyway …
We all have this opportunity to make our world a better place. You especially.
Another hat tip to Cristina Canters for writing this post on her blog, which I linked to above and highly recommend for additional reading on this topic: How To Accept A Compliment Without Sounding Like A Douchebag.
Finding her post this morning was a welcome bit of serendipity. She explained this topic in ways I hadn’t considered it before, which is what inspired me to think about it further and write about it. Thank you Christina.
Flickr Creative Commons image via LexNGer