Has this ever happened to you?
You: Oh I love your dress, it looks so good on you!
Them: It’s just this old thing I haven’t worn in years
You: Your hair looks great today!
Them: Well I really need to get a haircut
Or in my case:
Me: That workout outfit is so flattering!
Client: Ugh I hate my belly
I’ve been noticing this type of thing a lot lately. And I don’t like it! It seems to be widespread, the way that we can so easily deflect a compliment, or downgrade a positive comment directed toward us by responding with a negative.
Why do we have such a hard time accepting compliments?
Just a couple of weeks ago I met some friends for happy hour and they noticed my outfit, which is good, because I had taken extra care and energy selecting it. It wasn’t my usual athletic attire, and I even put on these cute red wedge sandals! This is way out of my comfort zone, people. My friends complimented me, but instead of simply thanking them, I went into a long explanation about blah, blah, blah etc etc etc and that’s the reason why I ended up wearing this outfit.
It was a brilliant way to avoid accepting their compliments! Usually I do my best to receive compliments with “thank you” even if sometimes it feels uncomfortable for whatever reason (we could write a book on that, probably.)
But I heard this recently and it really bothers me:
Client: My wife just cannot seem to accept any compliment I give her! It’s so frustrating!
Now I know there are women out there thinking, “I wish my husband would compliment me” and vice-versa. And appreciating each other is a huge part of a successful marriage. Yet we each have our own reasons that we might have a difficult time accepting a compliment, so let’s look at it from the other person’s perspective (which is a place you’ve also been at some point if you’ve ever given a compliment and had it rebuffed.)
A compliment is a heartfelt gift. The person giving it believes you look good, or are smart, or did a good job, or something else positive, and wants you to know that. When you do not receive that compliment, you are minimizing something sincere and heartfelt and individualized directed only to YOU.
There is great reward in giving a gift, but also great power in receiving a gift. It doesn’t feel good when you give and it is not received. Receiving is just as important as giving.
So, even if you can’t figure out in a million years why your friend could possibly think that outfit looks good on you, just trust it and receive it!
And if you’re a married woman and you have a husband who works out with me and you just happen to notice that he pays you compliments . . .
Just say “thank you.”
Just a simple thank you.
Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, is a NSCA-certified trainer and strength coach with 15-plus years of experience working with athletes and clients of all ages. Her specialty is in functional strength applications, developing core and overall strength and coordination specifically for the purpose of enhancing the body’s ability to function optimally and safely in athletic movement. You can find her online at facebook.com/advancedathlete and twitter.com/advancedathlete.