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Take it as a compliment

Take it as a compliment

By Belinda Wilson


In my job, I come across many amazing professionals doing incredible things and I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. Why is it though that many have difficulties in accepting a compliment? For some, it is also just as hard to give a compliment, but perhaps that is a blog for another day.

I’ve noticed that “complimentees” (those being complimented) fit into a few common categories:

1. The suspicious

The other week I complimented a colleague on her career, saying that she had a great future ahead of her. I was taken aback when the reply was one of suspicion, “Why do you say that?” “What do you mean by that?” 

What I meant was exactly that . . . no hidden meaning, no tripping her up, no back-handed comment. I was trying to pay her a compliment about her exceptional career. 

Perhaps we are at times suspicious because comments have been made by past “complimentors” (those offering the compliment) looking for something in return. A compliment should be just simply that . . . a compliment.

2. I’m going to play it down

Another common response is to play down the compliment. It goes something like this:

Complimentor: “I thought your appearance in the Magistrates’ Court was great”.

Complementee: “Oh that, I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I would have liked and I had trouble getting clear instructions”.

I am guilty of this response too. I am often downplaying the comment with an insecurity or a deflection. Sometimes we may be running low on confidence, or comparing ourselves to others. However, this is the time to pick up that compliment and embrace it. We shouldn’t feel guilty or awkward about receiving a compliment. 

3. Return of service with a comment 

For the tennis fans, often we see a compliment being returned to the “complimentor”. The return of service is often so quick that the original compliment is lost in play and the conversation is directed back to the “complimentor”. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this (I am all in support of giving compliments), sometimes you just need to accept the compliment . . . full stop.

Next time you receive a compliment, keep the above in mind and accept the compliment with open arms. After all, you deserve it!

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