Do you have any suggestions on how to accept compliments? Receiving them always makes me feel uneasy. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m taking credit for things that I didn’t make or do or really think too hard about. Some examples:
“Nice car.” Thanks! Daddy bought it for me after I crashed my last one.
“Cute shirt.” Thanks! Mommy dressed me this morning.
“I like your haircut.” Thank you, miss. Let me give you my barber’s number.
You get the idea. Maybe not to that extreme (my mother does not in fact dress me). But I just don’t know what to say. Btw, great column. Love your advice.
– Misanthrope in Maryland
In high school a guy who was a couple years older than me started pursuing me and I totally felt bewildered by his interest–why is this hot dude into me? On one of our dates, he told me I was beautiful and I froze. Then I blurted out, “I’m not good with compliments.” Not smooth. The next day I told my best friend and she buried her face in her hands and said, “What is wrong with you?” Oh how I wish I knew.
Compliments are SO hard to accept, aren’t they? I think a lot of us get the idea that we shouldn’t, somewhere along the line. Like it’s immodest or vapid or, like you pointed out, you’re taking credit for something you don’t deserve. But that’s really not the case. No one who compliments you on your shirt thinks you wove the fabric and sewed it yourself. What they’re complimenting you on is your taste, or your ability to put together an outfit.
Perhaps if cash came with every compliment things would be easier. (image credit)
The best way to get over your fear of the compliment is practice. Next time you are preparing for a situation that will likely yield compliments–a wedding where you’ll be dressed up, going to work the day after getting a haircut, showing off your new condo to friends–tell yourself you will accept the compliment, and you will NOT brush it off. How exactly do you do that? Here are several compliment scenarios, along with several responses.
The Compliment: “I love that blazer/shirt/pair of shoes!”
The Response: “Thank you so much, I just got it.”
The Compliment: “Your haircut looks great.”
The Response: “Oh thanks, I was just ready to try something new.”
Why do these responses work? Simply saying “Thank you” in response to any compliment is totally appropriate, but I find that it’s hard to stop there. It feels awkward if you’re used to batting down someone’s compliment with a lot of explanation (“No, I should have ironed this shirt, it looks terrible”). Tacking on something after the thank you, like “I just got it,” fills the void you might feel to explain, but it doesn’t reject the compliment.
“Lloyd! You have an amazing bowl haircut!” “No, I don’t, Harry! La la la!” (image credit)
The Compliment: “You did a great job on that presentation.”
The Response: “I’m glad you thought so, I was kinda nervous.”
The Compliment: “This apartment is amazing.”
The Response: “Whoa, thanks, that means a lot coming from you.”
Why do these responses work? Because you’re accepting the compliment, but also returning it to the giver. If it really bothers you to accept kind words about something that feels undeserved, maybe showing that you respect that person’s opinion will help mitigate the discomfort.
Finally, think of it this way. People who deflect compliments come off as lacking confidence. Someone says something nice to you and you go out of your way to tell them that they’re mistaken? You’re actually not in shape/well-dressed/good at your job/etc? Those who know their worth and are confident are much more attractive than those who are dead set on convincing the world that they aren’t anything special.
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