We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled. –Mason Cooley
One of the many things I find strange is how terrible many of us are at taking compliments. I realized a couple of years ago, that I am horrible when it comes to receiving compliments and it is important for me to learn to be better at accepting them. We all have heard someone get complimented on what they are wearing and the response is, “Oh this old thing.” Or “This is just a cheap….” Somebody else gets a compliment on their hair and the response it “Oh it is such a mess today.” or “I haven’t even washed it in ….” Why do we feel the need to make excuses for positive statements regarding our looks, behaviors, or attitudes? It is as if we can’t stand to have someone say something positive about us and so we must reject it. This is not humility but instead it is rejecting the good that we have in us. It is preventing us from being nurtured and encouraged by others. We have just passed on an opportunity to increase our self-worth and see positive things in ourselves. I don’t think we realize how destructive this is.
When we do this, we are also insulting the person by saying they do not know what they are talking about, their opinion is wrong, or they have poor tastes. We manage to turn something very positive into something negative. There is a reason they said it to you and taking a compliment graciously tells them you respect their opinion.
It doesn’t even matter the motives behind a compliment because unless you can read mind (which you can’t) you won’t really know them. Just because someone is trying to get something from you doesn’t mean that what they say is not true. Even people who have ulterior motives will generally look for real things to compliment in a person. It does not mean that we need to give into what they want but we can still take the compliment and use them for our own benefit.
The appropriate response to a compliment is “Thank you” or “I appreciate that” or even “I am glad to know that you like it.” I believe this is very important for us to implement in our lives. Take a compliment and let them nourish and uplift you. Acknowledge it and try to believe it. Allow yourself to feel good about it and know that someone saw something good in you that you just have difficulty seeing right now (it doesn’t mean it is not there).
When you receive a compliment well, it brings positive feelings not only to you but also to the person giving the compliment. They feel good knowing that they said something nice to you and it encourages them to be more generous with their compliments to both you and others. We need more positivity in this world and we need to encourage it. We are very good at taking insults and criticism to heart why can’t we take compliments to heart in the very same way.
I make it a rule always to believe compliments implicitly for five minutes, and to simmer gently for twenty more. – Alice James