For some reason, the world is divided into two groups: those who can accept compliments and those who would rather have their finger and toe nails removed with pliers than accept one despite the fact that we may know that we’re doing well, we look good, our handbag is nice or our brows are on point hearing another human tell us seems to release an influx of awkward atoms into the blood stream.
We can’t seem to accept a compliment without deflecting from the praise. It’s not that we don’t think we’re worthy of the praise it’s more that some people are more loathe than others to sing their successes for fear of rebuttals or sounding like they’re boasting, so to be so publicly accepting of a compliment can make the most awkward of people react even more awkwardly than usual. And of course, there’s the risk that the compliments being dished out are of the backhanded cariety.
I’m the worst person for taking a compliment – I believe the fastest way to recovery is to admit that you have a problem. I’ve even been told this by a friend who notes that every compliment she’s ever given me has been deflected with a joke or a “not this old thing” guffaw before awkwardly changing the subject or responding with a barrage of swear words like someone suffering with a bad case of Tourette’s. “BEEP off you BEEPING BEEP, I look BEEPing awful today. BEEP.” is my usual response, which isn’t particularly gracious and I’m sure that’s not how Beyonce responds to compliments.
Do you know the best way to take a compliment? Take it.
By deflecting a compliment from a person you’re ultimately poo pooing their opinion and psychology says that they may be less inclined to pay you compliments in the future for fear of further rebuttals.
Think about it, if you were to compliment a friend on their appearance, success or areas in which they were uber talented in and they shut you down good and proper on a number of occasions, would you continue to compliment them or would you take your kind words to someone who you deemed more appreciative of them?
I for one would much rather try to grin and bear it than be left with a future devoid of compliments and kind words from friends.
Look at it in this perspective:
Imagine a compliment is a physical gift. Be it a puppy, the new Charlotte Tilbury palette, a speedboat or a handbag that’s the monetary equivalent of two months rent. Or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
You’re excited to give this gift to someone because you think they deserve this gift, because you want to brighten their day by giving them this gift.
Now imagine you’ve given this gift to that person, all beautifully wrapped with a thoughtful note on the gift tag and they hand it straight back to you.
“I don’t want that” they say.
Hurtful right? That is essentially what rebuking a compliment is like. Human nature means that we wouldn’t do that, we would more often than not thank do the “a gift, for me? You shouldn’t have” exclaim and then thank the person for the gift.
So why are we so hesitant to do so with a compliment?
Because I’m guilty of this myself, I’ve been doing some “self help” (whacko whacko woah) to try and overcome my fear of accepting people being nice to me. Wanna know how?
When someone says “I like your dress” followed by a smile the correct response isn’t “oh god it’s only from Primark in the sale, and like an idiot I brought the wrong size so it’s dead tight on my arms and my arms look like baby elephant trunks but I couldn’t be bothered to exchange it for the right size because I’ve been to busy”.
The correct response is:
If some awesome human being who has their life priorities in the right place happens to compliment you on your eyebrows, instead of saying “UGH these slugs? They really need tweezing but I can’t get a threading appointment so I’ve had to over fill them but I’m sure my left hand side is more arched than the other side but I didn’t have time to correct them because I got up late”.
“Someone smells nice today, is it you?” should be greeted with:
… Instead of “it’s only some really cheap embarrassing celebrity stuff that I picked up from Boots in the sale because I’m sick of using my expensive stuff for work”.
No matter how hard it is, no matter how much you want to crack a joke or respond to their compliment with a playful “piss off”, grit your teeth, smile and say:
Most of the time, unless you’re frenemies with Regina George or someone who wants to be RG, people are genuinely paying you a compliment because they do like your dress of your eyebrows or on point or your new bargain perfume does smell nice.
And you never know, accepting all this positivity rather than avoiding it like a scary game of rain dodgeball in the school PE hall might in turn breed positivity.
So what are you waiting for? You look wonderful today.