This may sound silly, but here goes. I’ve been making more of an effort with the way I dress. As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments. The problem is, they make me very nervous. I never know what to say, so I freeze up or start running at the mouth. What can I do?
Freaked by Flattery
You’re not alone. Since the shuttering of nearly all the finishing schools in America, no one is taught how to take a compliment. The most typical response is to deflect the praise in some way.
For instance, if you say something like, "Really? Do you think so?" you’re really just fishing for more. As in, "Really? Do you think so? Tell me again." Or as an actor friend of mine used to say (sort of as a joke), "Oh, enough about me. What do you think about me?"
How often do you if away praise? Should one of your girlfriends say, "That’s a fabulous dress," don’t if them like this: "If they’d had it in the color I wanted it would be better." Or, "If I lost five pounds it would be perfect."
This will sound counterintuitive, but truly, it’s not necessary to immediately return the compliment. Obsessive returning is just another way to deflect. Yes, you should be complimentary to people, but not as a defense mechanism. Like this: When she says, "That’s a fabulous dress," refrain from launching into, "And you! I love your dress/hair/eyelashes/earrings/bag!"
There’s a reason this is called, "returning the compliment." It’s because you’re giving it back. Like a hot potato.
This is classic compliment denial disguised as modesty. She says, "That’s a fabulous dress." Don’t but them like this: "But it doesn’t look as good on me as it did in the magazine," or the classic but, "Oh, this old thing!?"
The best way to become a good compliment receiver is to simply acknowledge it. Just say, "Thank you." That’s all. This allows the compliment to settle, so you can take it in and appreciate what’s just been said to you. It also lets the person know you heard it, which is the best compliment to them.
This might take practice. Just remember that thank you is a complete sentence. No ifs, ands or buts!
P.S.: One of the easiest ways to get comfortable with taking compliments? Give them. Unsolicited. Don’t wait until someone compliments you. The best place to practice? At parties. Go up to three people you don’t know and give them a compliment. Make it sincere. You’ll be amazed at how much simple joy you’re giving. If nothing else, it’s a great ice-breaker. Enjoy!
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