“Oh, it’s nothing.” “Well, I just have to, I don’t have a choice.” “Nah.” “Haha, I don’t think that’s true.” “No, you’re really the awesome one.”
Have you ever said those things when someone gives you a compliment? Or heard those things back? Or some variation?
It can be really hard to take a compliment. It can bring up our own insecurities and trust challenges, push up against our programming and conditioning around being humble, modest, or “too full of ourselves,” trigger a shame cycle (hello perfectionism!), or be otherwise uncomfortable.
Brushing aside a compliment, assuming it’s actually a criticism, or responding with a compliment to the other person, all serve as deflection techniques. Those are the intuitive responses many of us have to receiving a compliment. However, we’re actually communicating a lot – more than we probably intend – when we don’t accept a compliment.
What We’re Communicating When We Don’t Accept a Compliment
When we don’t accept a compliment, we’re telling the other person:
- You’re wrong.
- You’re a bad judge of character/achievement/aesthetic/etc.
- Your opinion is invalid.
- I don’t respect you.
- You’re not important.
- You’re a failure.
- You shouldn’t take the risk to share your insight.
Harsh, right? I bet you can think of a time when you offered a compliment, the person deflected it, and you felt bummed out in one of those ways.
So, how can you receive a compliment graciously, and without unintentionally hurting the giver?
Accepting a compliment involves an easy technique, and it can be really difficult to implement for all of the reasons I mentioned above.
- You might feel a bit frozen, or your thoughts might start swirling. Take a breath to help soothe your system.
- Say, “Oh, thank you!”
- Soothe yourself more after. You’re doing something that is difficult, and it’s helpful to invite in some self-compassion, and self-gratitude for trying.
- Remember, it takes practice. As you practice, you’re building new neurology. It will get easier the more you do it!
Even if you’re not able to do it every time, or do it right away, just considering soothing yourself and saying, “Thank you,” the next time you receive a compliment, is already starting to build the neuropathways to make it possible in the future!
Check out the rest of my blog for more practical tips and fun information about mental health and geekery.