What is your immediate reaction when someone compliments you? Do you graciously say “thank you” or do you immediately tell the person all the reasons why the compliment they just gave you is completely false!
Recently I attended a presentation by Lisa Shorr of Shorr Style. Lisa, an image consultant, was talking about the typical reaction a woman has when being complimented and she inspired me to write about this topic.
I have struggled with taking compliments all my life. When I reflect back on it, there are two main reasons 1.) because I don’t like being the center of attention and called out for something or 2.) I think I have just done something wrong and I need to justify the compliment. No matter the reason, it is all due to my inner self-confidence!
Women try to shrink themselves
In the past when I was told “you’re so smart” I would say something like “oh, not really, I just study hard.” Then I would quickly change the topic to take the focus off me. Do you ever do this?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has said it’s hard for women to accept compliments because “we teach girls to shrink themselves smaller”. When I heard this, I yelled “Yes!” this is what I’ve always done. I want the attention off me, I want to shrink! Listen to her Ted talk – amazing. Or you can also read her bestseller “We Should All Be Feminists.”
Women denigrate themselves
It is so hard to accept a compliment. In the past if I was told my dress was pretty, I would immediately answer “I got it on sale, 75% off!” I still have to work on this. Just the other day I was in my favorite boutique and they complimented me on my coat. My response was “I’ve had it for years”. Their response to that was “you always say that!” Ouch, that was true. Why did I feel compelled to tell them how old the coat was? Why couldn’t I and why can’t other women just say “thank you?”
Women must own the compliments.
I know it is difficult to break our habits but we must accept compliments. If not to improve our own self-esteem then, most importantly, to set a good example for our daughters. You are the #1 role model for your daughter so she is learning from you how to handle compliments.
If you struggle with accepting compliments graciously, here are some tips that have helped me:
- Own the compliment, internalize it, and let it boost your self-confidence. First, say to your inner self – yes, that’s true! Stand tall and put a big smile on your face!
- Say “thank you”. If you do nothing more, make sure you follow-up with “thanks, how nice of you to say that.”
- Agree with the compliment. And if you can, just, add your own twist to the compliment, something such as “I love this dress too. It is one of my favorites. It makes me feel good when I wear it.”
- Never, ever, put yourself down!
As I said, I am still working on it but I am improving. I hope these tips help you! Be thankful!