During my time in high school, I remember one extremely distinguished classmate in my music class.
He was an incredibly talented vocalist (we were an arts high school – and yes, it’s just like that Nickelodeon show), incredibly humble and just an all-around down-to-earth guy.
After every performance, he would receive many well-deserved words of praise from peers and teachers alike. But their words were always met with humoured self-deprecation. “Oh, I was definitely flat on that one note.” “My voice was cracking like crazy.” “I just couldn’t nail that run.”
One day, I remember one of our teachers telling him in exasperation: “Just take a goddamn compliment!”
Of course, I’m paraphrasing the above, but we all have that one friend who just can’t gracefully take a compliment. It’s fairly safe to say that people are afraid of acknowledging positive feedback for fear of coming off as self-centered or fat-headed. But dismissing these compliments can actually be more detrimental to your image – not to mention your relationship with the person offering praise.
Why? People don’t exactly go around handing out compliments like handfuls of glitter at a pride parade.
In fact, most individuals are incredibly discerning about their likes and dislikes. Offering a compliment in a way is an incredibly personal act, showcasing that their actions or accomplishments left an impression on you.
If compliments haven’t felt like they carried any weight to you before, they should. That will make it easier to put the action into perspective. But worry not, there are still ways to accept the compliment without coming off all Johnny Bravo-esque.
It’s easy – just say thank you. And mean it.
Being genuine is key, and you don’t have to overthink it. Following it up with “I appreciate it” or “That means a lot to me” may seem corny, but they are really effective for showing the individual that their opinion is important to you. That alone can go far in validating them.
If being the centre of attention isn’t your thing, you can always follow up your “thank you” by sharing credit where it’s due. If there are other people who supported your accomplishment, mention them to shift the focus of the conversation. Never under any circumstances undermine their complement or tell them that they’re wrong.
All in all, don’t be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the feeling of a job well done. And don’t forget to dish out a few compliments when they’re well deserved – you never know when they’ll come back around.