This past weekend I remember my friend looked at me and said, “Wow your hair looks so beautiful.” I cringed my face, and shook my head. I love my hair, but we had recently returned to our friends from a swim, and my hair was in a bun, slowly curling to a frizzy mess as it dried. Then immediately, I felt the guilt. In the kindest possible way, I thanked her for the compliment, genuine smile and all, even as I was still cringing inside.
Compliments. We love and hate them, whether they are about our skills, actions or physical appearance.
An article from TheMuse.com by KT Bernhagen, titled “Just say thanks: why accepting compliments is good for your career” stated, “Rather than risk looking self-promotional, we downplay our work, change the subject, or put others in the spotlight in our place.”
We have a tendency to avoid the praise aimed toward us. Cue the buzzer — this is not an effective way to communicate.
In order to change, we need to follow what I call the Golden Rule of Compliments. In other words, respond to a compliment as you would want others to respond to you. It sounds cheesy, but this rule can be satisfied through your verbal and nonverbal communication.
First, avoid downplaying compliments with “It was nothing,” or “It’s no big deal.” Instead, receive the authentically given compliment in a genuine way.
Bernhagen stated that examples of sincere responses can be, ‘Thank you. I really enjoy (performing, speaking, whatever) and I’m glad you liked it!’ or ‘Thank you. I’m so glad that I could help.’ Or, for a more general response, ‘Thank you. I appreciate it!’
Done. Now was that hard? Be genuine and affirming in your response to the compliment. If necessary, feel free to share the credit with others, depending on circumstances, but avoid downplaying at all costs.
Second, be aware of your non-verbal communication. Rather than scratching your head, giving a shoulder shrug, or looking away because you feel awkward, take different actions.
A Business Insider article by LisaMarie Luccioni titled “Nine ways to take compliments without looking conceited” suggests that steady eye contact, genuine and interested facial expressions and a relaxed posture demonstrates that you are receiving the compliment well.
Most of the time, when compliments are given, people mean it. People do not waste their breath. Compliments are not so much about you, but about the other person.Compliments give you an inside look into their perspective. By learning to accept compliments, you not only allow the freedom for someone to affirm you, but you also have the opportunity to see yourself as others see you.
Learning how to interact with compliments well is continual lesson for me. I would rather run than accept a compliment. But, I am slowly challenging myself to embrace them, and thank the complement giver.
Follow the Golden Rule of Compliments, and receive compliments coming your way. Respond with thankfulness and intentional focus to the other person and take the compliment with grace. This is the type of respectful response you would desire from others.