Why is it when it comes to compliments most of us can dish them out but can’t take them graciously? Accepting compliments is skill, and when done well oozes confidence—something every woman who receives one deserves.
Recently, I was horrified to witness an extremely well-composed woman turn from impressive into a bumbling mess, upon simply receiving a compliment. I shrunk watching her babble about why the dress she was wearing was really just something old that if she didn’t wear she was going to throw away. Her initial confident exterior vanished in the blink of a wincing eye. It was so uncomfortable to hear her, watch her, and feel her squirm. That woman was me, and this was not the first time a compliment had turned me upside down. In fact, it seems my gut instinct is to make excuses, or offer up excessive information that makes me seem less-than, instead of simply owning the win.
I wouldn’t call myself a diva, but I do put the effort into looking my best. Like most of us, I feel better when I like what I’m wearing, and if I’m having a good hair day on top of that—forget about it. However, if you kindly confirm these things out loud, directly to me, I go from assured to awkward in a matter of seconds.
How do you handle a compliment? Are you in control, or are you a hot mess like me? In an effort to stop myself from continued embarrassment, I’ve done some research and talked to women who seem to have this down to an impeccable science. Here’re some simple tips on how to take a compliment with grace.
Get out of your own way.
If someone is flattering you, there’s no reason you should be the one to discount it. There are enough haters in this world, and you need to have your own back. In an instant, you have the choice to be great or to show weakness. When you turn a compliment into an awkward situation, you’re creating an uncomfortable space that no one, including yourself, enjoys. It may feel out of your comfort zone, but you’re not the one bragging, someone else is. There’s nothing pretentious about accepting a compliment, so get out of your own way and accept the love.
Don’t insult people.
Dare to tell me you like my purse or that my lipstick color is pretty, and I will immediately tell you why, in fact, you are wrong. I’ve realized I not only can’t take the compliment, but I’m also insulting the giver. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so don’t insult them by telling them they’re gravely mistaken. Next time you hear yourself starting to reject a compliment, hold your tongue. Don’t think of it as accepting praise, think of it as not being rude.
Those of us who are uncomfortable with compliments tend to deflect by droning on and on with unnecessary information. No one cares if you didn’t bake the cake from scratch or if you bought those shoes on deep discount. Maybe the idea you’re being celebrated for at work originated from a conversation you had with someone in line for the restroom. No matter the reason, you’re the subject of these honeyed words, don’t overshare. Too much information may make them want to take it back.
Simply say thank you.
A compliment does not require a witty reply. Simply respond saying, “thank you.” This is the most gracious and elegant way to accept any compliment.
Pay it forward.
If you just can’t help yourself and saying thank you does not suffice to quell your nerves, offer a compliment in return. Avoiding an awkward situation is just that simple.