I love your hair color!

Thanks, but its not really mine, I color it.

I love what you’ve done with your lawn. The landscaping is beautiful!

Thanks, but I got the idea from something I saw. I’m not that creative!

Wow! You painted this? It is gorgeous!

Well, my mom is the real painter in the family. You should see her stuff.

 

It isn’t easy to take a compliment. We all crave approval from our friends and family and the world at large, and yet when we get it in such a direct and obvious way, we tend to shy away from it. We have good reasons for this. Many (including myself) were taught that humility is a virtue.

Don’t brag.

You don’t need to be the center of attention.

And so, even when we may agree that we did a good job on something, we feel the need to lessen the compliment. It wasn’t impressive that we got that 98% on the big test, because someone else got 100%. It wasn’t as great of an accomplishment that we started our own business because we had to get a lot of advice along the way. It wasn’t all that brave of us to perform our creative activities in public because most of the onlookers were our friends anyway. You shouldn’t like the dress (or pants or scarf or shoes or whatever) that I’m wearing so much because I got it at a thrift shop. I’m not that great, someone else is better, it didn’t turn out as good as I was hoping, I had to get help, blah, blah, blah….

And, for those of us who are trying to be bold and brave with our creativity, we often feel the urge to not only protect ourselves from criticism, but to even protect ourselves from praise. It can feel awkward. We aren’t sure what to say back, and if we just take the compliment, people will think we’re full of ourselves….right? We’ve all known those people. They take a compliment a little too well. They are eager to take the credit for anything, even when they aren’t the ones who did the work. But, in our fear of looking like that, we jump in the opposite ditch. I propose that, when done well, accepting a compliment comes across as confidence and gratitude, not conceit.

Have you ever tried to give a gift that the other person just wouldn’t receive? Almost as if you trying to give them a gift made them feel bad instead of good and then you felt bad for trying to give them something? Its very frustrating. I remember once hearing someone report that a friend had said to them, “you are a very hard person to give things to,” because they just couldn’t accept a gift.

Don’t be that person. Don’t make people feel bad for trying to make you feel good. Don’t be hard to give things to. Stop it.

A compliment is a gift and there is a good way to receive that gift and a bad way. So, here is my advice on how to graciously accept a compliment:

Just say, “thank you.”

That’s it. If you are feeling like embellishing it a bit you can say, “I really appreciate that,” or, “I’m so glad you like it! I worked hard on it,” or, “Oh thanks! That makes me feel good because I really poured a lot of myself into that.” And, now, not only do you feel good for being complimented, so does the person who complimented you. Their goal was to make you feel good and it worked. You didn’t throw it back at them by not accepting.

Life’s too short to not feel good about our accomplishments. We all want the praise, so why not take it when it comes? It makes everyone feel good. And that’s beneficent!