No. 3 Rule of a lady and why receiving compliments is uncomfortable

  • Have you ever felt a red-hot discomfort from receiving a compliment? 
  • Do compliments make you feel guilty, weird or like you need to say something nice back?
  • Do you respond to compliments with a “no that’s not true” or “yes, but….” Instead of a simple “thank you”?

If your answer to the questions is yes, then this article is for you.

I find that there are two main reasons why it is hard for women to accept a compliment. Self-esteem and culture.

I have previously written about how important self-esteem is in my 5 keys to being classy. Now I found an article on psychology today that captures the essence of this issue by saying that how receptive you are to compliments can be a reflection of your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

When you receive a compliment it contradicts with your own negative view of yourself and makes you feel uncomfortable. I believe that it is not only due to that you find the compliments being jarring and unauthentic, but rather that you feel like you unintentionally have fooled that person into believing that you are better than you actually are. Which triggers a feeling of shame. Therefore, instead of saying “thank you” you say that “its not really true” or “I am not really good at that, it just seems like it”.

Not everyone who is uncomfortable receiving compliments necessarily has low self-esteem. Sometimes I think that it has to do with an intention to be humble

When you receive a compliment for something you did well, or for your beauty, and you know that you did that thing really well, and you are well aware that you are beautiful, you still do not accept the compliment because you believe that it will make you seem pompous and full of yourself (after all we are thought not to blot about our successes or act as if we are better than others). Therefore, instead of saying “thank you” you choose to say something like “yes, but I was lucky” or “it must be because I put extra makeup on today”.

I know I can. I have probably experienced a bit of both. Sometimes, I feel like people think I am better than I actually am which make compliments feel like lies. I don’t see these lies as their lies; I see them as my lies. In my head I think that I must have done something to make them believe this illusion of me being perfect.

However, for the most part I mainly relate to the culture issue. I have had a lot of success very early on in life, especially in my career. I am aware of this, and I am also aware of it being due to my own hard work and resourcefulness but still I frame it as luck, as if I did nothing and somebody just came and handed me these opportunities. While actually I made some tough choices, I created my own opportunities, an I am honestly proud of how far that has taken me. But, when someone says “I wish I had your determination and drive” or “you have done very well for yourself” I tend to downplay my own role in my success and say “I have been very lucky” or “Its all about luck and timing” and so on.

Why? Because, while I am comfortable in my own success, I feel that we live in a world were someone else’s success is perceived as one’s own failure. And that confident and successful woman are more likely to seem pompous and full of them selves than confident and successful men. Therefore, I often do not dare to simply say “thank you” when someone acknowledges my hard work.

 So, ladies, make sure not to downplay your beauty, brilliance, or your accomplishments next time you receive a compliment. Just say “thank you”, it does not have to be harder than that.

And to get you more comfortable receiving compliments, I want to share this article by Madly in Love With Me where they share a 3 step process of being better at receiving (not only compliments).

How do you respond to compliments and do you find compliments uncomfortable? 
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