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Sincerity is the highest compliment you can pay. Emerson

Last night I was listening to the radio as I came home from the gym. The radio personality was talking about how we don’t seem to be very good at receiving compliments. He was talking about an interview with quarterback Tom Brady being called the Goat (greatest of all time). Tom Brady said, “It makes me cringe, I guess I take compliments worse than I take, ‘you’re too old, you’re too slow, you can’t get it done no more.’  And I would say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m gonna go prove you wrong.’”

There are four reasons given why we are uncomfortable with compliments:

We have low self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found people with low self-esteem have the most difficulty accepting compliments. According to the study, compliments aren’t likely to improve our self-image. Sometimes people feel they are being lied to, that the compliment is not genuine.

Our self-image doesn’t line up. The compliment doesn’t line up with the way we see our self.

We are uncomfortable with big expectations. Studies show people with self-worth issues prefer to set the bar low. If they meet the expectations they are pleasantly surprised. High expectations may make self-doubt creep in and cause anxiety. We may feel it is only a matter of time before we disappoint someone.

We want to be humble. It’s hard to know how to react when someone showers us with accolades. Saying “Yeah, I know,” puts you in jerk territory. Even a simple “Thank you” can feel awkward. Studies link humility to a variety of positive outcomes, increased self-control, and effective leadership.

We need to learn how to accept a compliment gracefully. The best response is a simple “Thank you”. We need to resist the urge to criticize our self, and if others have helped in our success we should be sure to spread the limelight.

Next, to a sincere compliment, I think I like a well-deserved and honest rebuke. Unknown

When we read self-help books we are often advised to look in the mirror and say good things about our self. If we get used to being able to say good things about our self, we may be more comfortable when someone says them to us.

Maya Angelou said, “Others will not remember what you did or said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” When someone gives us a compliment it isn’t only about us, we need to be careful not to make them feel diminished for saying it. If we brush off their compliment we may make them feel stupid, awkward, or like they’ve done something wrong.

Learning to give and receive compliments is a skill worth developing. When we say “Thank you” to a compliment we are acknowledging what the other person sees in us.

It may be “Thank you” for recognizing our individuality.

It may be “Thank you” for acknowledging our contribution to something.

It may be “Thank you” for offering space for our purpose to serve the world.

It may be “Thank you” for allowing us a chance to shine our light in their life.

It may be “Thank you” for seeing something in us we are only starting to see in our self.

It may be “Thank you” that our vision is worth striving for.

It may be “Thank you” that they too see the world how we do.

It may be “Thank you” we’ve found a group, a friend, or space where we feel we belong.

Being fueled by wanting to prove things isn’t necessarily bad. Not wanting to rest on our accomplishments but wanting to continue to move forward is inspiring. Genuine humbleness is a great quality, so is being able to accept a genuine compliment.

Are we comfortable giving and receiving compliments? Not all compliments are sincere. How should we handle the insincere compliment?

Do not offer a compliment and ask a favor at the same time. A compliment that is charged for is not valuable. Mark Twain

Simply Charming: Compliments and Kindness for All Occasions by [Matheson, Christie]
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Simply Charming: Compliments and Kindness for All Occasions 1st Edition,Kindle Edition