How to Be Comfortable Accepting a Compliment
Ever feel like accepting a compliment is super awkward? Whether you're actively trying to master the #humblebrag or you just feel uncomfortable when someone says something kind about you, know you're not alone. Many women struggle with the same issue, despite being totally amazing inside and out. We recently talked with licensed psychologist Lauren Hazzouri from Not Therapy about why giving daily compliments is so important — and why we're so uncomfortable receiving them. Hazzouri broke down the discomfort and gave us three legit responses that'll help you allow yourself to shine.
Why Does Accepting a Compliment Feel Awkward?
“I believe there are a couple of reasons that it's awkward (and often painful) for women to accept compliments," Hazzouri says. “Anyone with low self-esteem (little confidence in their own value) hates the spotlight." Even when the spotlight is bringing positive attention, it can make us worry that our negative qualities could be on display too. “Even more, people with low self-esteem can find it hard to believe that the positive reinforcement coming their way is authentic," Hazzouri notes. “To save themselves from humiliation, women with low self-esteem negate compliments, worried that accepting one or agreeing might leave them looking gullible, feeling exposed, and, ultimately, rejected."
For those with higher self-esteem, Hazzouri says that accepting compliments can feel wrong too. “Society tells women that to be accommodating is to be a lady," she explains. “Part of being accommodating is to act modest and humble." Deflecting compliments can seem like it helps achieve this humility, which correlates with social norms and likability. “We all want to be liked. We're social beings having a human experience," she reminds us.
How to Accept a Compliment Like a Pro
Hazzouri suggests, “First, start thinking about it like this: To accept a compliment graciously is to be present. All any of us has to do is show up, be ourselves, and speak our truth. Playing a prescribed role and following weird, made-up rules that result in meaningless social niceties isn't actually nice at all — for you, for the complimenter, or for anyone around you to see." Fair point.
So what should we do instead? She suggests owning your strengths and weaknesses during daily interactions. “Remember, we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves and what we accept from others." Still feel uncomfortable? Hazzouri gave us three go-to responses you can confidently use next time someone offers you kind words:
1. Express the same sentiment.
“The one that always gets me is when I see someone receive a compliment on something like clothes or an accessory," Hazzouri admits. “I mean, obviously you like the item too or you wouldn't be wearing it." To respond gracefully, let the admirer know you share the love. “Next time someone says, 'I love your handbag,' try responding with the truth: 'Me too, I stalked it online for months!,' instead of the tired old, 'Oh, jeez, this old thing?'" It's *so* much more authentic.
2. Own the things you love about yourself.
“When someone says something like 'your hair looks beautiful,' I suggest responding with 'You just made my day. I've been growing it out and I like this length too,'" Hazzouri shares. “If you didn't like your hair, you wouldn't have posted that selfie. Admit it and own it. We've become pretty good at celebrating each other, so let's start celebrating ourselves too." Right on!
3. Just say “thank you."
Is there really a better compliment than when someone shares something they value about you? We think not. “When a friend tells you, 'You make me a better person,' there's definitely no need to get all self-centered and think, 'Anyone could do what I do,'" Hazzouri reminds us. “Don't steal that moment from your friend! Remember that she needs you to be all that you are for her to be all that she is. Recognize that, yes, maybe anyone could, but they didn't — you did. Be proud, and thank her for sharing her feelings."
This post has been updated.