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Posts Tagged ‘receiving compliments’

Just Say Thank You: ¬†How To Receive A Compliment With Confidence

In etiquette, lifestyle on December 11, 2019 at 2:54 pm

The other day I was with a friend who complimented someone on her beautiful silver gray hair and, in agreement, I co-signed on the sentiment.  Without hesitation, this person turned the compliment into a self bashing session then proceeded to tell us in so many words that we didn’t know what we were talking about because of our perceived youth and that clearly we were clueless.  Standing there listening to this back and forth, I felt insulted and uncomfortable and walked away, leaving the ladies to continue their fruitless exchange.  

To be on the receiving end of a compliment can be an uncomfortable experience.  And although you may desire the affirmation of others, it can be very easy to downplay, deflect or reject the nice things people say to you.  This behavior can be attributed to various reasons.  For instance, you may have been raised to not bask in the glow of a compliment because doing so can be seen as conceited.  Other reasons can be directly related to one’s level of self esteem. Those with lower self-esteem may struggle with feelings of unworthiness and don’t believe there is good in them for others to see.  For some, they think it makes them look humble if they deflect a compliment.  Fear can also be a factor.  For example, if someone compliments you, perhaps in a work setting, you might feel like you’ve been exposed and are now expected to perform on a level higher than you feel you are able to perform.  In addition, (some) women in particular are conditioned to be apologists, to cower and self depreciate so when we do receive praise, we can sometimes be quick to point out self-perceived flaws. 

Whatever the case, when you downplay, deflect or reject a compliment, you may think doing so is noble, that it makes you look good in others eyes, or that your reaction is no big deal.  This isn’t necessarily the case and in fact can have a negative effect (on the giver).  Rejecting a compliment can do several things:

  • It can be insulting and show that you don’t respect the opinion of the giver.  For example, if Nicole says, “Janet, your photo selection for the team’s latest project is excellent” and Janet responds with “Actually the photos aren’t that great” what Janet is saying is that Nicole is not a good judge of quality or that she lacks the ability to decide what she likes for herself.
  • It can make the giver feel uncomfortable. For instance, if Nicole says to Janet “I love that dress on you” and Janet responds with “I think it makes me look like a beached whale with stumpy limbs and the color accentuates my breakouts” Nicole might feel like Janet’s negative comments about her looks is weird and makes her want to run away.  Besides, why wear something you feel makes you look bad anyway?
  • It can lessen your chances of ever being complimented again by the giver.
  • It can make you appear weak or ungrateful. Compliments show that the giver sees something in you and values you. Downplaying, deflecting or rejecting compliments and praise can lessen your value in the giver’s eyes.
  • It can make you appear fake humble when you might actually be quite self absorbed. 

Instead, here are four things you can learn to do to accept compliments with grace and ease:

  • Just say “Thank You”.  It’s simple and acknowledges the good taste of the person offering the praise.  It may feel uncomfortable but say thank you and leave it at that.
  • Don’t feel obligated to return a compliment especially if it’s not sincere.  You don’t owe a compliment to anyone and please refrain from engaging in a compliment war to ease your personal discomfort.
  • Dont delflect or dilute the compliment with self insults.  Remember it can create a tense and weird interaction.  It’s also unfair to the giver because they don’t need you to unload your insecurities on them.
  • Give credit where credit is due in collaborative situations but still accept and appreciate the positive feedback for your input and participation.

Might there be an ulterior motive when some people compliment you?  Absolutely.  In situations like that, you can still accept the compliment and remain aware, trusting your gut.  There are also times when someone compliments you and you really aren’t sure about what was said.  Try to just “say thank” you and move on.

Are you someone who is comfortable with receiving praise or do you struggle with receiving compliments and praise with grace and ease?  Share your comments below.