Does taking compliments make you feel a little uncomfortable? Do you ever wish you could just come up with the right response? Here’s our handy guide! By Alice Tucker
How did you react the last time someone gave you a compliment? Did you blush and turn your eyes to the floor? Or perhaps you went to great lengths to contradict the compliment, claiming “it was nothing”, giving 101 reasons why it just isn’t the case, and explaining why the person dishing out the compliment is actually far better than you at everything and anything?
Let’s face it, very few of us can actually accept a compliment. Many of us live in fear of being complimented because we just don’t know how to react, and generally, when we are complimented, our knee-jerk reaction is to ignore it, deny it or deflect it.
It’s about time that we all learn how to accept the compliments we receive with confidence. So, here is a definitive guide to doing just that!
5 reasons we can’t accept a compliment
The first step towards learning to accept a compliment is realizing why we feel the need to reject them in the first place! Maybe one or more of these 5 reasons will strike a chord with you?
#1 We wish to appear humble.
As human beings, we constantly worry how our words and actions might be perceived by others. One of our main fears is being deemed as arrogant. After all, it is often one of the top criticisms we may have about others, so perish the thought that someone else might believe YOU to be arrogant! As a result, we often believe that by rejecting a compliment, putting ourselves down, and downplaying our achievements, we might seem more humble and modest.
#2 We bully ourselves.
Some of us are self-deprecating, self-destructive and self-bullying. It comes from our unrealistic ideals of perfection, and the pressure and expectations we put on ourselves to meet those ideals. Every single one of us falls short of perfection because it is unattainable. Yet, we still choose to constantly put ourselves down and bully ourselves into believing that we are not good enough. As a consequence, many of us then reject compliments because we genuinely believe that they are undeserved.
#3 We can’t stand the pressure.
Many of us dread receiving compliments because we feel that they heighten the expectations of ourselves. For example, if someone were to compliment you on your outfit on one particular day, would you then feel pressured to look equally as amazing every other day for fear of forever being judged against that one particularly good version of yourself on that one particularly good day? We attempt to remedy this situation by rejecting the compliment in the first place and downplaying our achievements for fear of being a disappointment to others in the future.
#4 We are distrusting.
When receiving a compliment, it is often difficult to perceive whether the other person is being sincere. Perhaps they have a motive or are trying to provoke a particular reaction? Cast your minds to cult teen movie “Mean Girls”and the infamous Queen Bee, Regina George. In one particular scene, she stops a fellow classmate in the hallway and pays her a compliment: “Oh my god, I love your skirt! Where did you get it?” The moment the girl turns her back, she mutters: “That is the ugliest f***ing skirt I’ve ever seen.” Many of us, living in fear of a moment like this, attempt to save face by denying the compliment and attempting to align our response with what we believe is the complimenter’s true opinion.
#5 We love to criticize.
As a society, we have a knack for spotting flaws. Most of us have sat around with our friends complaining about the veins on our legs, the pores on our nose and the excess fat around our hip bones. After all, you are surely the most qualified person to make judgment on yourself, right? You could even go as far to say that we enjoy complaining about ourselves as much as we like complaining about others! Consequently, we often find it easier to accept criticism over compliments, simply because they are more often in agreement with our own beliefs. Furthermore, we subconsciously believe that by accepting a compliment, you are admitting that you were wrong about yourself, which many of us have trouble admitting.
5 reasons why you should learn to accept a compliment
It’s time to flip your internal script and dispel your fears when it comes to receiving compliments! Here are 5 reasons why.
#1 You appear more humble by accepting the compliment.
Rejecting a compliment can actually make you appear hostile and obnoxious, NOT humble and modest. Ordinarily, you might respond to a compliment such as “Your hair looks lovely today” with a reply like “Oh, it’s horrible and greasy… I haven’t washed it for days”. You might think you are just putting yourself down in order to look modest, but in effect, you are also unintentionally saying: “You’re wrong and I’m right and this is why,” which is pretty arrogant, don’t you think? You are much better off accepting the compliment in a respectful and gracious manner.
#2 You save the complimenter from shame and embarrassment.
By giving you a compliment, a person has gone out of their way to make you feel good about yourself by verbalizing something positive that they have noticed about you. It also often takes courage to pay a compliment. By deciding not to accept the compliment, you are dooming their efforts to failure, you run the risk of causing them embarrassment, and you are disrespecting their ability to form judgments. Protect the feelings of the complimenter and see accepting a compliment as a compliment in return!
#3 You can call the complimenter’s bluff.
Even if you believe the compliment to be insincere, you are still better off accepting it. If the complimenter is being disingenuous, their aim is most likely to make you feel small and vulnerable, and to knock your confidence. By giving them the opposite response, you are calling their bluff and denying them of the satisfaction of seeing you squirm. So, muster up as much courage as possible and deliver your acceptance with maximum confidence and poise.
#4 You should celebrate your achievements.
We never fail to give ourselves a hard time over our failings, so why should we fail to congratulate ourselves for our achievements? You can begin to do so by accepting the compliments and rewards given to you by others! View a compliment as an opportunity to boost your self esteem and avoid the pitfalls of negative thinking. After all, having confidence and sense of pride in yourself can lead you to further success!
#5 You will be more liked by others.
Our happiness partly relies on the state of our relationships and the success of our social interactions. And, the simple truth is that people are more likely to be drawn to you and to like you if you have a positive and confident frame of mind. Therefore, rejecting compliments and responding to them in a negative way will have the complete opposite effect. So, accepting compliments with a friendly and positive outlook leads to positive outcomes.
5 of the best ways to accept a compliment
By now, you must be convinced that accepting compliments is the way to go! So, here are 5 of the most successful ways to accept a compliment with class and grace.
#1 Say “thank you!”
This is the number one step when it comes to accepting a compliment. A simple “thank you” is often all it takes! Expressing thanks will never cause others to make presumptions about the size of your ego, and you can only ever come across as gracious and courteous! Add a smile, eye contact and confident body language to show your complimenter that your gratitude is genuine and true.
#2 Give credit where credit is due.
When accepting a compliment, always be sure to acknowledge when it was a group effort and give credit where it’s due. Share the compliment with any others who were involved in the successful endeavour. What’s more, if the complimenter had a hand in your achievements, be sure to let them know!
#3 Show some extra appreciation.
Follow up your expression of gratitude with some extra appreciation for the person who gave you the compliment. For example, “Thank you… You’re so kind for saying so” or “Thank you… It makes me feel great that you noticed. I have been trying so hard on that!” The complimenter will truly feel like they hit the right spot!
#4 Turn the compliment into a conversation.
If you fear you might be left in awkward silence after accepting the compliment with thanks, why not turn the compliment into a conversation? If the person commented on your new shoes, they might like to know where you got them from and the bargain price you nabbed them for? Perhaps, there were other shoes in the shop that caught your eye?
#5 Return the favor… later.
Returning the compliment immediately after receiving one may come across as disingenuous and false. You don’t want to be seen as paying a compliment for the sake of paying a compliment! However, do make a mental note to repay the kindness by delivering a sincere compliment the next time you notice something you genuinely like about that person.
Next time you receive a compliment, think twice before shying away or dismissing it. There will ALWAYS be more advantages for accepting it! You’ll be surprised at how easily it can be done with confidence and class, and afterwards you’ll feel 10 feet tall!