How to Take a Compliment
This message is especially for those of us whom I like to call Compliment Correctors. Which as a woman, I can say that most of us have had that role at least for part of our life, if not most of it.
As a disclaimer, I want to say that I too struggle with accepting compliments. I have gotten better at it, but I still have a long way to go because it takes time and practice to rewire those old thought patterns. I am in this with you.
What is a Compliment Corrector and how do you know if you are one? A Compliment Corrector is someone who when complimented immediately does one of 2 things.
Tactic #1: Explains why the person who complimented you is wrong, and the compliment isn't warranted.
Tactic #2: You take the Complimentor’s attention from what they were complimenting you on, and redirect it to a flaw.
Let’s break down each of those tactics of a Compliment Corrector with an example of each and the impacts they have.
An example of Tactic #1 is one that I, unfortunately, commit all the time. When someone compliments me on my hair color, I immediately respond with "oh no, this actually isn't my real hair color."
What are the implications when we respond in that way to a compliment? It becomes very uncomfortable for the person who gave you the compliment.
It is as if that person gave you a gift, you looked at it, and then handed it back saying, “This actually isn’t a good gift. It’s completely wrong.” Which then makes that person feel really awkward.
Tactic #2 is when you redirect the Complimentor’s attention to something you see about yourself as a flaw of yours. This especially happens when a woman compliments another woman on their looks. Here is an example of how this often plays out:
WOMAN #1: You look so good!
WOMAN #2: No way, have you seen the size of my thighs?
WOMAN #1: Are you crazy?! My thighs are the ones that need to be worked on.
WOMAN #2: I would do anything to have your waist though. Mine isn't what it used to be.
This quickly becomes what I refer to as a Flaw Fight. Which is where everyone present goes back and forth responding with things they see as being wrong with themself. It often seems to continue growing as if we are trying to compete for being the most flawed person in the group.
The impacts of this are that instead of one person feeling awkward, everyone feels awkward. Letting those conversations continue for however long they do, is subliminally communicating that talking bad about ourselves, about our bodies is okay. When really it is something that we need to break free from, and not encourage in ourselves, nor in groups.
It's time we turn from being a Compliment Corrector to a Compliment Collector.
I don’t mean "collect" like seeking out compliments. I mean that when you receive a compliment that you collect it, not correct it.
Here is how to do so.
The first phase in becoming a Compliment Collector is to BE QUIET. What I mean by that is when you receive a compliment, the only words to exit your mouth should be "thank you." Not, “thank you, but . . . “ just “thank you.”
It will take work to retrain ourselves. A great way to do so is to have a friend repeat a compliment they have told you before several times. With each recitation, practice receiving the compliment without trying to correct it. Over time it will get easier.
That is the first thing to master. Just allowing a compliment to come in and not putting up any kind of defense.
The next phase of being a Compliment Collector is letting the compliment come in and resonate within you. This is especially true with compliments pertaining to your character as a person.
When struggling with self-worth, we can be particularly fast to deflect compliments about who we are as a person.
If you are especially deeply-struggling with self-worth right now, I want you to do something for me. Think about the people in your life who are positive influences, and who from time to time compliment you for different qualities of your personality or character. Picture them all together in front of you smiling.
Now, you have to decide if you think these people are liars, insane, or telling the truth. Because when you drill down to the truth of the matter, if you never collect their compliments, then in a way you are saying you think they are lying or are insane.
Taking it down to that granular level has helped me. I would not say that the positive people in my life are liars or insane, so that leaves me with having to recognize that there is truth in their words. I need to collect those compliments and let them resonate within me.
I hope that mental exercise will help you too. I also hope you are with me on this journey of switching from a Compliment Corrector to a Complimentor.
As always, remember that you are valuable and desperately needed in this world.