DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE TAKING COMPLIMENTS?
WHEN PEOPLE SAY, “GOOD JOB!” DO YOU DISMISS THEM AS CRAZY??
IF YOUR BOSS TELLS YOU HE LOVES YOUR WORK, DO YOU TELL HIM HE SHOULDN’T HAVE HIRED YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE?
IF SO, YOU NEED TO LEARN TO TAKE A COMPLIMENT!
Sorry for that opening…I just love infomercials a little too much.
Anyway…somehow, we got it in our minds that to be humble and ego-free (which are good qualities and all, but not the end-all, be-all of personality traits) we have to disagree with anyone who tells us we did something well. We get awkward and uncomfortable when people draw attention to the things we’re good at. We may have been working our asses off on those very things, in the hopes of getting the exact praise that people are now doling out, but when we finally get it, what do we do? We say, “Oh…no. I’m not that special.”
And that? Is bullshit.
Here’s the thing: when you’re owning it, you can’t just own your flaws — you have to own your strengths too. I know you have them. You know you have them. Your friends, family, and coworkers know you have them. Acknowledging these strengths doesn’t make you a bad person. So quit feeling guilty about your God-given talents and downplaying the fact that you’re awesome.
Whether you’re getting weight loss compliments or praises on your talents from a friend, coworker, professor, or boss, here are some ways to improve how you take it.
1. Don’t deny the compliment.
…hello? Is this thing on?
This seems so obvious to me but it’s so common, it makes me crazy. Why is it that whenever someone compliments you, your first instinct is to deny them? That is so counterproductive. And ridiculous. If your boss congratulates you on a job well done, don’t respond with, “It wasn’t that great. I’m nothing special.” Really? It wasn’t? You aren’t?? Then why did she hire you??? Why are you doing work you aren’t proud of???? When you deny a compliment, that’s the message you’re sending.
2. Say “Thank you.” That is how you respond to praise. You mind your manners. You behave graciously. And you acknowledge that the compliment is true.
3. Don’t deny the compliment a second time. A lot of times, we get the “Thank you” down…and then we feel compelled to say something else. We don’t know what else to say and things feel too silent so as we scramble for words, the denials start again. Nope. Stop right there.
If you really need to fill that silence, here are some things you can say after the “Thank you.”
- “This project means a lot to me so I really appreciate the compliment.”
- “I’ve been working really hard so I really appreciate you saying that.”
- “I feel great but it’s nice to hear that the hours at the gym are doing something.”
- “It’s nice to know I’m leaving college with a job lined up.”
- “I’m so excited about the new job.”
- “I’m glad to hear you like it.”
- “I appreciate that.”
See how easy that is?
And once you’ve said that, you’re done. No justification. You don’t need to say anything else. The other person will direct the conversation from there.
4. Don’t give a forced compliment back. I know it’s tempting. You want to fill the silence and take the focus off of you so you try to turn it around and talk about the complimenter. Don’t. That’s just silly. Not only are you being rude by changing the subject they brought up, but you are also being fake.
5. If you’re embarrassed, say so. If the praiser is going on and on about how awesome you are to the point that it’s making you feel uncomfortable (or making your coworkers grumble), it’s OK to put an end to it at some point. Just say, “Boss, jeez! You’re making me blush!” That usually gives people the cue to wrap it up. But don’t do that before Steps 2 and 3. Give them a chance to actually compliment you first.
Accepting a compliment with grace takes practice, but it’s a really important life skill to have. If you continuously tell people they are wrong when they praise you, eventually they will start to believe you. And I’m afraid that you will too.