There are very few situations when I’m able to graciously accept a compliment. Like if someone said I organized something nicely, I’d believe it and say, “Thank you!” Other instances are limited to when someone praises my:
This is because I’m confident in these areas. I trust that I can name all the members of NSYNC or One Direction, and I pride myself on the tidy to-do lists written in my daily planner. But if someone says, “Hey Meg, you did a great job with that presentation,” my immediate reaction is self-conscious babble: “No, you don’t mean that. I was hunched up and twitchy the entire time, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t look anybody in the eye, and I definitely said ‘ummm’ too often, and are you sure we were even at the same presentation because I don’t think it was as good as you seem to be implying.”
Perhaps not everybody reacts with quite the same level of exaggeration and denial, but I’m sure we’ve all had moments where we flat-out refuse to believe we’re as awesome as other people say we are, especially if they’re talking about something we think we haven’t perfected. Maybe some of these responses sound familiar:
The knee-jerk reaction is to deflect the compliment. I don’t know why this is. Probably because we’re taught that humility is a good thing—and it is, I’m not denying that—so most of us don’t go out of our way to seek praise. We know we’re good at some things, but not all things, so maybe it seems wrong to accept the accolades.
But here’s something to consider: how often do you dole out compliments that you don’t really mean? Probably almost never, right? So why shouldn’t we believe the nice things people say about us?
We do our jobs well. We wear whatever makes us feel simultaneously pretty and comfortable. We participate in activities that make us feel helpful, or strong, or inspired, or whatever other fulfilling emotion we need in our lives. So if we’re doing all these things that make us feel whole and we do a good job, it shouldn’t be surprising that compliments pop up, and we should be able to politely accept whatever praise comes our way.
If the new guy you’re dating says you look amazing in that dress, believe him, smile, and say thank you. If a co-worker tells you they admire how composed you are when working under a deadline, thank them, even if all you say is, “I appreciate that.” It doesn’t need to be any more difficult than that. And once you get used to accepting all these compliments, maybe you’ll realize you’re pretty good at a lot more than just making awesome Mexican food.
Thanks, photojenni, for the image!
Megan S. is an associate editor at Dating & Hookup. She's a big fan of pop culture, comedy and essay collections (but just a regular fan of any sport that isn't softball or golf).
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