5 important reasons why women need to start accepting compliments
Being caught in water-cooler conversations can be awkward enough, but what's even worse is when someone has the audacity to direct a – dun, dun, DUNNN – compliment at you. Your face flushes red, panic sets in, and you frantically rack your brain to find something to bat the compliment away with.
If it's about clothes, we'll usually respond by informing the person about how old the item of clothing is, or simply that it was from Zara or that it was cheap. Other times, we'll boomerang the compliment by hastily saying something like "aww, I think your packed lunch looks delicious today too" or just blurting out "oh yeah it's because Mercury is aligning with Saturn in an optimal way for me right now". It seems physically impossible for us to just say "thank you" and to restrain ourselves to leave it at that.
Because somehow, we're afraid of this scenario:
Which is totally absurd if you think about it. Okay, maybe you do think you're really pretty – but why shouldn't you? We're constantly given mixed messages about self-confidence and learning to love yourself because also... we feel like it's unacceptable to agree with someone when they compliment us.
Social psychologist Laura Brannon told Today that it's common for all women, no matter how successful they are, and no matter how confident they are. She says women with low self-esteem "are more likely to genuinely not accept the compliment because it is inconsistent with their self-concept and they find it threatening." But even for women with high self-esteem, they will also reject compliments because they want to be seen as modest and polite.
We struggle with accepting compliments from men, but interestingly, it's even harder to agree with another woman who has decided to pay us a compliment. It's kind of like the opposite of fighting to be the "alpha male", where women will try to be more self-effacing, bashful and even self-deprecating than the other. It usually ends up in a scenario like this, as perfectly depicted by Amy Schumer:
We're so afraid of absorbing compliments that we shut them down or steer the conversation away to something else so that we don't have to let it sink in and let everyone know that yes, you think your outfit looks like a cool-kind-of-Elizabethan-era-piece too. But that absolutely needs to change. Rejecting compliments is bad for you for so many reasons. So to convince you why you should just take the bullet and accept the damn compliment, here are five reasons to start.
1. Because it stops annoying the person giving the compliment
If you're trying to act all modest so you don't make the person think any less of you, you're actually doing exactly that. People give compliments in order to make someone feel better about themselves and because it's a nice thing to do. Rejecting the compliment makes them wonder why they even made the effort, and also makes them feel like they have to reassure you with another compliment.
2. Because it builds character
Okay, I feel like this term gets thrown around a lot without anyone really knowing what it means. But seriously, accepting a compliment can help you realise something about yourself – hey, you do have great form at the gym, you are excellent at presenting stuff to clients. Learn it and own it – you're a better person for recognising your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses.
3. Because people who make excuses are lame
Fumbling around with an excuse for why you can't take ownership of the compliment is just like someone cancelling on your plans because they're "not feeling well" when you know full well that they just can't be bothered. Own up to your actions, take responsibility for yourself, stop giving lame-a** excuses because you're afraid of looking bad.
4. Because you're wasting good endorphins by deflecting praise
There's a part of the brain that's stimulated when we are praised or complimented, which not only gives us a boost in mood, but also is proven to make learning easier. Rejecting a compliment means you're rejecting the associated cognitive benefits, and your emotional health and overall confidence could suffer. Why would you not want to perk up your day?
5. Because it's just a ridiculous mentality to think you shouldn't bask in your own awesomeness
I'm sorry to be harsh, but you won't go far in life if you keep convincing yourself that your life involves a narrative where you're an insecure, timid, lazy, apologetic, no-I'm-not-all-that kind of person. Accepting compliments is just part of realising how uniquely awesome you are, and knowing that if you're ambitious and unwaveringly determined – you can do anything.
The bottom line ladies is to acknowledge that the formula for how to deal with a compliment is easy: You earned it + someone noticed = just accept it.