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Difficulties with accepting compliments?

I wrote in my previous blog: a compliment is a positive expression of praise to someone for an action, result, appearance, a meaning, etc.

Isn´t it fantastic to get such a token of appreciation? It enhances performance, it boosts self-perception and it affirms right behaviour and actions. How kind is that?

However, many people find it difficult to accept compliments. Only a minority accepts unconditionally a compliment, the majority reacts in a way varying from complete rejection to deflection or evasion.

One of the more generic reasons for finding it hard to accept is: receiving is an inbound, passive action, which could make you vulnerable. You are not in control, it simply happens to you.

Let`s zoom in the different reasons why people have difficulties with receiving compliments.

Rejection and Evasion.

Rejection and evasion are very close related. A rejection is 100% not accepting the compliment at all. People simply do not want a compliment. They appear arrogant, detached, don`t trust you and sometimes they are sarcastic.

While evasion is trying to run away from the compliment, avoiding it. With evasion, people feel uncomfortable, look down, blush and try to change subject. It shows uncertainty.

But, be careful with these responses. They send the wrong signals to the giver and next time he/she will think twice before giving you a compliment as s/he does not want to put you in an uncomfortable position again.

The reasons for rejection or evasion include (1) the fact that people are afraid that they need to do something in return and so they are afraid that the compliment is not sincere (flattery), (2) maybe they feel that they don’t deserve it (which could be true sometimes), (3) they don`t dare to open up, because they have a low self-esteem and so the compliment does not reflect how they see themselves or (4) they fear that people judge them. And as a result they are trying to turn attention away from themselves.


Many people do accept a compliment, but they trivialize. “You are wearing a beautiful dress”, answer: “Oh, it is an old one, I don’t like it so much”. (Hey, why do actually you wear it?)

Some of the reasons for this behaviour are that you think you don`t deserve this compliment, you try to come across as a modest person, or you are a perfectionist and you rather look at the shortcomings than what went well.

How to make accepting easier

Firstly, here are some general tips:

· Don’t see yourself as stupid, ugly or boring

· Be proud on who you are and what you do

· Increase your assertiveness and resilience.

· Take responsibility and liability

· Be objective and honest with your opinions (about yourself)

The best and most correct way to accept a compliment is being grateful. Just say “Thank you”, and smile. Smiling when you receive a compliment makes it easier to accept the compliment and it is a form of acceptance,. It may be difficult in the beginning, but this is matter of training.

If you wish make your “thank you” a little longer (which is better) by adding:

· “…that is very kind”

· “…this is very much appreciated”

· “…I am happy you noticed”

· “…this is a nice confirmation of what I was thinking”

· “…and what did you enjoy most” (that will start a nice conversation).

Please realize that is impolite if you reject, deflect or evade a compliment. Put yourself in the position of the person who was so kind to praise you.

So, do the following:

· Never deflect or evade. It is often a false modesty.

· Don`t give a compliment in return. It may seem assertive, but it isn’t.

· Don’t start fishing for more compliments! It is a gift.

· Give yourself a compliment once in a while. Good for you.

· How often do you give a compliment to someone else? Make it a habit.

The more you to the above, the more comfortable you feel because you create an atmosphere in which compliments are normal.

Accepting compliments doesn't mean that you are arrogant or indulgent. It's just healthy for yourself and the relationship with the person how gave the compliment.

When you can honestly accept compliments, your self-confidence increases by 34%. And that makes you both more successful and happier.

Please contact me if you would like to get more information or would like to be coached on Accepting Compliments.


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