How to Take a Compliment

Disclaimer: This does not apply if said compliment is being given by a creep or serial cat-caller.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been guilty of responding to a compliment in the following ways:

Talk yourself down

Avert and credit someone else

Change the subject

Assume the person is being ingenuous

Ascribe it to luck

All of the above…yeah, relatable.

I can certainly keep my hand up for that entire list. Offer me a compliment and I’ll probably tell you at least one reason why I don’t deserve the praise. The issue with that is, if we are unable to welcome kind things someone says about us, it wreaks havoc on our own confidence. But we must also appear humble and coy, right? Yes, two things can be true. You can be humble and receive a compliment.

Normally when I offer someone a compliment and they instantly reject it, it definitely makes things a bit awkward. For example, “Your outfit is really cute” met with a response like “Ew no, I look like crap.” Pretty sure most of us have been in this scenario. And regardless of knowing that I would much rather prefer the person to just accept my compliment (and leave it at that), I find it hard to accept one myself. I usually will laugh (more of a smirk) it off, credit someone else, or make a self-deprecating joke. While I do think there’s always space for a pinch of humor and we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves, we also need to be able to take a compliment.

If you do a couple Google searches, you’ll find how much of a problem this is amongst several people. Just search “how to take a compliment” and you’ll find endless of articles giving advice on how to accept a compliment “with grace” and be “congenial.” But how is that even the point? Tons of articles I read insinuated that women are the target, and we struggle to just accept a compliment at face value. Instead we should “mind your nonverbal cues,” “compliment the complimenter” or “smile a lot.”

We should without a doubt give credit where it’s due, and yes, it’s nice to compliment someone in return but it’s not and shouldn’t be a requirement. Consider a compliment a gift. If someone gave you a gift, you most likely wouldn’t reject it. So why do that when you’re offered a compliment? I’m well-aware that beauty standards and societal pressures have something to do with this. But allowing yourself to receive a compliment has beauty as well.

Studies have shown that receiving praise can boost motivation and improve your brain’s ability to remember and repeat new skills. So the next time someone compliments your success at work try saying “Thank you so much I worked really hard.” When a friend compliments your outfit or your hair maybe respond with “Thank you, you made my day.” Let the praise soak in, allow yourself to believe it, after all, it could actually be true.

“A compliment is verbal sunshine.” – Robert Obern

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