Exercise Your Life Muscles: How To Take a Compliment

The other day a complete stranger complimented my coat and I graciously said “thank you” and mentioned to the passerby where my winter warmer was from before heading on my way. A few hours later my dear friend said she liked the same coat and I began rambling off a list of concerns about it: I was worried about the color. Does it squeeze my pudge? But you like it, right?

My reverse response got me thinking that there must be a reason why I so easily took a stranger’s compliment with no second guessing. And clearly, I need to go back to compliment school because I obviously have trouble embracing kind words from those I care about. Research shows that I am not alone when it comes to having a poor response after receiving a compliment.

So from one complimentee in training to another, here is a lesson worth embracing:

Say that 1000 times fast.

Step One: Accept the Compliment
Just as I did with the stranger, practice saying the words “thank you” and not “thank you, but…” You are not conceited, arrogant or an ego-maniac if you accept when someone says something nice to you. There is no need to rattle off the list of flaws you have swarming in your head or shoot the compliment giver down. Say “thank you” and then zip it.

Step Two: Be Appreciative
No more being flustered when it comes to praise. Try treating compliments as you would a tangible present. When someone hands you a wrapped gift do you typically fumble with your words and say things like “Are you kidding me? This gift can’t be for me.” If you do, I hope you stop. Remember step one: smile and say “thank you.” In hindsight, deflecting niceties from friends (or anyone really) is actually a slap in the face to the compliment giver and feeds into all the insufficiencies that are living in your head. You don’t want to subtly (or not so subtly) accuse your complimentor of being a liar!

Step Three: Compliment Yourself
Often it is difficult to accept a compliment because you feel undeserving of it. I am not saying you should ogle at yourself in the mirror for hours on end, but I am saying that admitting to yourself that you are not a Quasimodo look alike (or whatever your “issue” may be) will ensure that compliments from others will be more easily accepted. If you need to practice your kid mentality of being uber confident (with more to boot) then do it. Make a habit of complimenting yourself everyday…and meaning it!

Maybe it was my mood when the stranger passed by or maybe it was that I didn’t really think it was appropriate to deflect a compliment to someone I would likely never see again, but in any case, there is something to be learned from that scenario. If viewing my friends and loved ones as strangers is what it takes for me to put my compliment training into action then that is what I will do. Plus, mastering the art of receiving compliments helps you become a well-balanced person and we all want that!

Are you good at receiving compliments? Share your secrets!

Photo courtesy of Felixco, Inc. via FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. Such truth in this Talia! It’s SO easy to deflect compliments – and seems to take a lot of habit breaking to really start accepting them.

    I love this – “admitting to yourself that you are not a Quasimodo look alike” – ha!


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