Have you ever met one of those people who can’t accept a compliment? You know, the woman who’s wearing a stunning silk Versace dress and responds to a compliment, “Oh this old thing?”. I might not be the woman in the silk dress, but I have been known to be an ungracious receiver of compliments.
I’m not sure where the fear of being haughty came from (actually, I am, see below). But the desire to be humble has caused me to be almost self-deprecating at times. Minimizing compliments, trivializing the hard work that I do, and avoiding comments about my physical appearance are all part of the weird, “game” that I used to play. Here are a few examples:
- Woman in the Elevator- “I love your glasses, the blue on the inside makes like look like Tiffany”
Me- “Oh, thank you, same Tiffany blue color, but I actually bought them online at Coastal Contacts for a steal of a deal, I think after shipping I paid about $10.”
Voice in my head- She doesn’t need to know that, just say thank you.
- Friend- “Those are Hue leggings right? Aren’t they great? I have the same pair but they look better on you”
Me- “Yeah I got them last year at DSW, they sent me a coupon for $10 off anything and they were on sale already so I got them super cheap…”.
Voice in my head- Why did you tell her that that matter? Just say “Yes, thanks”.
- My Co-worker- “You’ve really been doing such a good job with your new team, there’s something about your style that really works with them. No other manager has been able to connect with them they way you do, you really, “get it”.
Me- “Well, I’m not sure it’s me per se, I’m just doing what I can, to make things work smoothly”
Voice in my head- Damn right, they’re a good workers, but I’ve been working really hard, I’m glad to be noticed.
- Bouncer at a Bar- “Wow you look so young, I wouldn’t have guessed you’re 30, you must have really good genes”
Me- “I guess so, people say I’ll appreciate it when I’m older”
Voice in my head- Take the ID back, say thanks and walk away. Admittedly, this one always annoys me a little bit, and it happens frequently. I’m not sure why I always feel the need to say something back. I know it’s a compliment, but it doesn’t always feel that way.
- Acquaintance- “Joey told me you work in social services, that work is so hard. You must have a heart of gold, I could never do it”
Me- “No, most people could do the work if they wanted to, it’s not conceptually difficult, you just have to have a passion for working with people that the rest of society has decided aren’t, “worth the trouble”.
Voice in my head- No, most people couldn’t do the work, they’d quit after the first day. Smile, say thanks and have another glass of wine, you need it after a long week saving peoples’ lives.
The polar opposite of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’d actually minimize my accomplishments in order to avoid looking too proud. I guess some of the fear of appearing too, “showy” or, “flashy” is learned from my mother (love you mom!).
From my youth, she’s taught me to work hard, help others, and avoid being the center of attention. Accepting a compliment just about kills her. Needless to say, It’s been a long hard road to changing the way I think about compliments.
That being said, I think there’s a fine line between not accepting compliments, because you don’t want to be boastful, and not accepting compliments because you don’t think you’re, “worth” being complimented. Just to be clear I’ve never been the later. I’ve always been confident about my work, my relationships with others and (for the most part-ladies you know how this is) and my physical appearance.
So, as hard as it can be for me to receive a compliment, now I just smile, say, “thank you”, and keep my mouth shut before I make any unnecessary comments.
Can You Accept a Compliment? How did you Learn?