“I love your new haircut!”
“Thanks, I wish it were a little longer.”
“Great job on that event last week.”
“You think? It felt like such a mess!”
I’ve heard friends shut down and push aside compliments so many times, like arrows bouncing off a shield. It’s frustrating! Instead of letting praise sink in, we push it away. Almost as if we think we don’t deserve it.
Giving and recieving compliments can be the most awkward experience if the reciever tends to shut them down or deflect them. Having gotten into a spat with a friend over this, we decided to put aside our metaphorical swords and discuss this like women.
“I thought we’re supposed to be humble! I feel like if i just accept the compliment I’d probably sounds like an arse”
“Hmm..” I pierce her with my therapeutic gaze.
“Why do you think that is though?”
“I mean… I was often told at home that being good at something was nothing to crow about”
*Never heard that one before* I think sarcasticly.
Mommy and Daddy issues have been contributors to the impostor syndrome and negative self-talk for generations now. The more overachieving parents often find ways to set unrealistic standards for their kids- unknowingly creating a system that is designed to fail them.
Result being? Underachieving or over achieving talented children with low self-esteem.
So what do they do?
●︎ Deflect: Push the compliment away (“You think? I don’t know about that…”)
●︎ Reciprocate: Returning a compliment back to another person ASAP (“Thanks, I love the way you…”)
●︎ Discount: Criticizing yourself post-compliment (“Thanks, but I wish I’d…”).
Deflecting, reciprocating and discounting are ways of responding without receiving. These are unhelpful habits that we pick up from parents or role models, which might indicate a feeling of insecurity. A sign that we feel like we don’t deserve to be acknowledged. Why does being complimented feel so uncomfortable? Because we’ve stopped seeing what’s worthy of admiration in ourselves. We spend so much of our time putting ourselves down (using inner-monologue to tell ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough), that when someone expresses an opinion that differs from our own, we feel vulnerable and exposed even if in a pleasurable way. It often makes the reciever come across as uptight, closed off and defensive and leaves the compliment giver feeling a little stupid and humiliated. In fact, contrary to popular belief, accepting compliments does not make you any less humble – It gives you the healthy dose of validation your self-esteem needs. Apparently recieving compliments and opening yourself up to them lights up the same parts of your brain that light up when you recieve cash or have sex. Of course, there’s no overnight way to boost your self- esteem. It is a result of gradual improvements in your quality of life, such as having a deep connection with loved ones, a healthy body, a sense of control, creativity, recognition, and respect from others.
Meanwhile- what could you do?
Just accept the damn compliment. It’s free.
Here are some ways to do that:
A simple “Thankyou”
Even the nicest, most deserved compliments can catch us off guard, leaving us scrambling to come up with an appropriate response.
The solution? A simple “thank you.”
There’s no need to justify your gratitude, or elaborate on what the compliment entailed—just thank your friend for paying you a compliment, and move on. If two words feels too short, you can customize your default response to something like, “thank you, I appreciate it,” or, “thank you, that means a lot.”
Own your strengths
If you shy away from compliments because you don’t want to appear conceited or full of yourself, recognize that you deserve recognition. It’s not conceited to accept a compliment. If someone points out that you look nice or did a great job on a project, acknowledge that you put work into it and that they are recognizing you. For example, if you put a lot of work into a presentation and someone says, “Great presentation!” acknowledge your hard work by saying, “Thanks! I worked hard on it.”
Avoid disconfirming the compliment
You might feel tempted to disagree with the comment as a way to appear humble. However, by saying things like, “It was nothing” or, “Don’t mention it,” you downplay your role, the compliment, and the person giving it. Besides, the person might feel rejected if you disagree
See yourself the way that others see you
Take a moment and reflect on the compliments you receive. Whether you believe them or not, take the chance to see how others see you. You might learn something about yourself or the work you do and feel more positively.
Show the value of the compliment
Once you’ve mastered thanking someone for a compliment, try articulating its effect on you.
Does your boss’s praise make you feel seen and worthy? You could accept it by saying something like, “Thanks, it’s so satisfying to know that my work is making a difference.”
You’ll be doing both of you a favor—by verbalizing what the compliment means to you, you’ll feel a greater impact. And by telling your boss how her compliment helps you, you’re helping her learn how to compliment you better.
Boost your self-esteem
If you feel good about yourself, you may feel good when someone else notices something positive about you. Increasing your self-esteem can make you less resistant to compliments. Do this by thinking positively about yourself and recognizing your worth.
The points above were literally stolen from a wiki how article on how to take compliments. I’m pretty sure they’re doable.
So, the next time someone compliments you, you’ve got a bundle of responses in your backpack. Until then, help yourself to these free compliments and pass it on to your loved ones.
Just take it and go!