Monday, November 17, 2014

How To: Receive Compliments

How To Receive Compliments
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At work lately, I've noticed on more than one occasion that female coworkers struggle to accept compliments. They'll say things to diminish what they did or say "thanks, but..." and explain why they should have done better. 
I wanted to write about this, but I'm struggling a bit. I've noticed it to be gendered, but I also largely work with women, and most of the women I work with are the ones kicking ass and getting complimented. I have a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that women aren't as able as men to accept compliments, but I think it's worth thinking about. 

I wonder if there's something about this that's related to the things that girls are typically complimented about that makes us as women feel cautious about a compliment. Yup, the old female body on display again. I'm not sure as a girl that I was complimented for my skills and achievements less than my male classmates, but I do know that I was complimented on my appearance more than they were. The non-physical remarks might have been the same, but they were sometimes lost in a sea of physical ones. A boy might be told 5 times that he's smart or did good work, and that might be 100% of his compliments. A girl might be told the same 5 times and then 10 times that she's pretty or looks nice or has beautiful eyes. 
So is that some of how we get to be adult women who deflect compliments, even when they're not about how we look? What are our other options? I searched for some thoughts on this and found this one:"Think of the good we might do ourselves by easily accepting every compliment that’s offered us, even if we’re not entirely sure the person complimenting us is totally earnest. Instead of undermining our self-confidence, we would feed it. Instead of denigrating our achievements, we would promote them." You can read the rest of that article here. Clearly, this is important. I know the choice between undermining my self-confidence and promoting my achievements is an easy one...yet...I do it too. "Thanks, everything just came together," I might say, or "Thank you. My team was great." See how neither of those owns the good work that I did? 
What about just saying "Thank you" and leaving it at that? Have you used or heard any wonderful ways to take a compliment? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 
Also, ever since reading this article on how to talk to little girls, I've tried to do a better job with talking to both little girls and little boys. 


  1. Interesting article on talking to me to thinking (ha). I have a twin sister. We are not identical. I was the smart one but she was the pretty one. Guess who got more attention? It made me feel like I wasn't pretty. I was the one in the family who went to college and graduated. Don't think I ever got complimented on that. For years, I struggled with feeling ugly. When I look back at pictures of the two of us, I see two beautiful young girls - different but each pretty. I wonder if my sister would have done better in school if her looks hadn't been focused on and if I would have had more self confidence if my abilities were valued.
    So I get the whole learning to receive a compliment. It's a struggle.