When do we learn that accepting a compliment is a bad thing? You know what I’m talking about. The way we treat compliments like that last piece of cake that EVERYONE wants but no one will actually take.
If you tell a 2 year old she looks beautiful she says “Thank You” because she knows it’s true and she is honestly glad that you noticed.
If you tell a 12 year old she looks beautiful she will more than likely roll her eyes do the “aw shucks” thing and maybe mumble “thanks” in a way that dismisses rather than owns the compliment.
I am not sure what happens in these 10 years to keep us from graciously accepting a compliment, but I do know that once this is learned it stays with us the rest of our lives.
In some cases insecure females will use compliment deflection as a way to fish for more compliments:
“You look great”
“I feel fat”
“Well you don’t look it”
“I am ugly”
“No you’re pretty”
and on and on. This is the most pathetic case of compliment deflection and is usually practiced by shallow insecure females under 25. And if you do this, STOP RIGHT NOW! However, this isn’t the kind of deflection I am talking about.
I am talking about the true discomfort most of us feel when someone says something nice to us. That inner squirming…you gals know what I mean.
If someone tells us that our hair looks nice we don’t say thanks we start explaining how we got the look and why it isn’t as good as it should be. Sometimes we pass the compliment on instead of keeping it for ourselves. “It’s this new shampoo I am trying made from the sweat of MLB mascots.” or “Yes I’m trying a new hairstylist, she only uses antique scissors blessed by Tibetan monks.”
If someone compliments us on our outfit we tell them where we got it and how much it cost because the point isn’t that YOU picked out a beautiful outfit that looks great on YOU the point is that we got it for eight dollars at Target.
If someone says we did a good job we explain how we lucked out, the stars were aligned just right to help us pull of this miracle of doing a great job instead of being a total fuck up.
If someone says something ambiguous like “You look fantastic” we joke around and do a wild impromptu game of compliment badminton trying to deflect the compliment and send it back to the other person. (No, YOU are the one who looks great, is that a new dress? Why yes it is, I got it for eight dollars at Target)
What we DON’T do is accept the compliment with grace . . . and we should. If you tried hard to look nice, own that shit and say THANK YOU! Don’t say thank you and offer an explanation, that is just sneaky deflection. You start off right with a thank you and then POW send that baby right back over the net with some drawn out explanation of why you’re having an off day and happen to be awesome.
QUIT DOING THAT! Why do we sell ourselves short? It’s okay to be wonderful and beautiful and smart and if someone else notices then good for them. Say thank you and mean it! Channel that inner 2 year old who knew how fabulous she was.
This is something that I have really been working on and it feels good to not have to explain away a compliment. It feels good to take pride in myself when I do a good job. When I take time to wear something other than yoga pants and t-shirts, I’m glad people notice. It’s a good thing.
I’m not 100% perfect on compliment accepting but I am getting better. Sometimes I get those insincere compliments from pretentious bitchy women who use back-handed compliments to point out what’s wrong with you. (I just love what you’re doing with your hair, I could never go three days without washing my hair) you know what? Just say thank you to those bitches as well, it totally throws them off their game!
I admit sometimes it is difficult to know how to respond to a compliment. Just the other day I was at the doctors office for my annual exam and, in my defense, I think having my feet up in those god-awful stirrups threw me off. In the middle of the exam my doctor says, “Your cervix looks wonderful” now how do you respond to that compliment? Judging by the look on my doctor’s face you do NOT respond with “What? This old thing?”