WHY IS IT SO HARD TO RECEIVE A COMPLIMENT?
I can still hear his words as if they were spoken yesterday. “Beth,” he said, “you can’t receive a compliment.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You are unable to accept it when people compliment you.”
I was 17 years old. And it was my Young Life leader who shared this truth about me that initially shocked me but penetrated nonetheless.
Almost 30 years later, it’s still true. How did he perceive such a deep, life-long truth about me so many years ago?
When people compliment me I have no idea how to react. I make a joke about it, blow it off, or try as hard as I can to be humble. Why do I do that?
The insecurity in me doubts that the compliment is genuine. The effort to appear humble comes from the possibility that it is. Either way it’s risky. It’s a defense mechanism I suppose. It’s protective gear for my doubt-infused sensitivity.
But here’s the thing… I never once thought about the person giving the compliment. My rejection of the affirmation as insignificant has a squelching effect on other’s kind words. It’s almost as if I subtly and unintentionally devalue him/her as a person.
Sigmund Freud wrote, “Words call forth emotions and are universally the means by which we influence our fellow creatures. Therefore let us not despise the use of words…”
In future compliments I have to remind myself to look someone in the eye and say a simple and genuine “thank you.” No fluff. No sugar-coating. No blow-off. No superficial humility.
Giving the affirmation may have been hard enough for the giver. Acceptance of the compliment should be a slam dunk.
Now, was that so hard?