As I said in Compliments: Give to Receive, most people don’t receive many compliments, because they don’t give many compliments to others, and this is caused by not feeling good about themselves. I hope everyone started the compliment challenge and that you already see the impact on your own confidence and sense of wellbeing.
Not feeling good about yourself also makes you feel uncomfortable when someone else gives you a compliment. As you might expect, an awkward response to a compliment will discourage the other person from giving you any more compliments.
In this post, you will learn how to accept compliments with grace.
Some people are not used to compliments, so they are shocked when someone says something good about them. Most people say something that reduces the compliment, like “It was nothing”, “You should have seen me do it last time” or “This time was not that good”, which is just like getting a gift from someone and saying, “Sorry, I can’t accept your gift, because I don’t deserve it”…
My son has been playing music since he was 4 years old. He’s played with people who were so much older than him most of his life. When I say older, I mean 20 to 40 years older. Since he was a very special little musician, he received many compliments. It was amazing to see how at the age of four, he already found the grace of saying, “Thank you!” with a smile.
Although you may be tempted to minimize the compliment, just smile, say, “Thank you!” and let yourself embrace the compliment. If you are caught by surprise, just say, “Oh … thank you”.
Start a conversation after a compliment
Some people feel a need to give back a compliment straight away, which shows their inability to enjoy the compliment they’ve just received. Although it is tempting to say something nice in return, it is better to use the compliment to start a conversation with the person who gave you the compliment.
Say things like “Thank you, my parents named me after a famous singer”, “Thanks, I am using a shampoo that really helps”, “Thanks, I bought it at…”, “Thanks, I have my grandmother’s eyes”, or, “Thanks, I really enjoy singing”. This will prevent you from downplaying the compliment, while making the other person feel good about giving it.
Again, we don’t need to give a compliment in return, but we can still make the other person feel good. When we appreciate the compliment and/or the giver, we encourage the other person to keep giving us compliments. When people reject compliments, others stop giving them compliments after a while.
When someone gives you a compliment, this is the time to use “I” and “me” statements, still with as much “you” as possible, like “Thanks, I really appreciate you saying this”, “Thank you, it means a lot to me”, “Thanks, you’ve have made my day”, “Thank you, it’s so nice to hear that”, “Thank you, that’s very kind of you”.
Share the credit
If the compliment is uncomfortable for you, try to share it with others, if you can. Sharing the credit with others is a simple way to manage the compliment if you don’t think you deserve all of it.
Say, “Thank you, it was a team effort”, or, “Thanks, we all worked hard on it”.
Avoid compliment battle
The desire to give back after a compliment is very natural. One risk of it is going into a compliment battle, which is double trouble (not feeling deserving and feeling that the other is more deserving). Avoid saying things like “Oh, no, you’re a better singer than I am”.
Sometimes, we think that the compliment is not sincere and it is very tempting to say our opinion, like “Thanks, but you didn’t really use my suggestion”. Remember, but is a conflict word. It is just another way of rejecting the compliment. You can still use words of appreciation for the effort the other person has made to notice something good about you.
If this is too hard, just stick to “Thank you”.
Smile and nod!
Sometimes, you receive compliments and you can’t say thanks out loud (when speaking to a crowd, or when you are speechless). You can still say “Thank you” with your body. You can smile and nod to show the person you have heard their compliment.
Never leave a compliment un-acknowledged! Make it easy for others to give you compliments. In our family, we call it “the royal wave”, so smile and wave like the royals do!
Accepting compliments exercise
Compliments boost confidence. If you diminish a compliment, it is only because you don’t think you deserve it, which means your self-esteem is low.
To build up your self-esteem, write down the following lists:
- 100 things you appreciate about yourself
- 100 things you are proud of yourself for
- 100 skills or good character traits you have
I promise you, by the time you get to 300 things, you won’t feel uncomfortable when others notice those things about you and mention them as a compliment.
Share your experience and challenges of receiving compliments in the comment box below and come back to read some great ideas for compliments to give others and yourself.
This post is part of the series The Power of Compliments:
- Compliments: Give to Receive
- How to Accept Compliments with Grace
- How to Encourage: Ronit’s List of Compliments