How Does a Compliment Make You Feel?
When it comes to receiving a compliment, do you get an awkward type of feeling all through you?
The pastor of my church complimented the woman who had finished up what we call a First Fruit appeal, then he complimented our liturgical dancers for the wonderfully choreographed performance they had done, then he started talking about a young woman in the church that he had watched grow up.
He made reference to how she used the misfortunes of her work experiences to cultivate her talent as a motivational speaker.
Oh crap! He was talking about me!
“Pam, stand up,” he said.
I stood. Hundreds of eyes looked back at me as I stood in one of the last rows in the balcony.
As he spoke on how I was the one who had done the voice-overs for the videos that had been shown for the previous four weeks, he thanked me for my talents and creativity.
He even told them I had started my own business. Had I done that? I know I have a speaking website, but I had yet to claim it as my business. (Maybe I should give that some further attention). And if you have something that you are yet claiming as real, perhaps you should start thinking and speaking differently too. For now though, lets get back to that awkward moment.
Everyone clapped. Some people stared back at me with broad smiles.
I stood there not knowing what to do. I wondered if my face showed as much.
“Do something silly,” I thought to myself.
But what was I to do? Smile? Nod? Bow? I had no stinkin’ idea because compliments always make me feel so dang weird and awkward.
In my mind, I believe I do what I am supposed to do and that whatever I do I am going do my darnedest to do it well. So when someone compliments me on what I think I should be doing anyway, I have no idea how to react other than with the hope that my face is not making puzzled gestures and with a “Thank You,” followed by questioning whether thanking them is the right thing to do.
Receiving a compliment really should not be THAT complicated.
Why Does a Compliment Feel Weird?
Wanting to know how to not feel so out of sorts the next time I receive a compliment, I decided to dig deeper into why receiving a compliment feels so weird.
Contradiction of our self-view: I had never considered this, but it makes a lot of sense. One belief as to why some of us are so uncomfortable with being complimented is related to our self-worth. If we have low self-esteem or do not believe in our talents and capabilities, when someone compliments us on something that contradicts how we feel about ourselves, that is what is really causing our discomfort. If, for example, you made a presentation and you did not like how it went, then someone compliments you with “Wow! That was an awesome presentation,” that contradicts how you feel, thus causing the compliment to feel weird.
Lack of trust in others: I will admit, I believe there are people that I call “politicians.” Those are the people that seem to always have the right words to say and because they always have the right words to say, I cannot help but to give them the side-eye. I cannot tell you why, but that makes me really uncomfortable. What happens as a result, if you are like me, is that you then wonder about the sincerity of their compliment. Am I right?
It’s all about me (you): Have you ever had someone break up with you and tell you the infamous phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me,” then your immediate thought is, “Well surely it IS about ME, because YOU are breaking up with ME!”? (That just made me laugh.) Some of us act in such a way that everything that happens to us is about us. Let’s go back to that example of you not being pleased with your presentation. When it’s all about you, you have a hard time with the compliment since you do not believe your presentation was as good as it could have been. If you do not believe it, then the presentation could not have possibly been that good.
In each of the above instances, we are projecting our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors on the complimenter. Hence, when we get all freaked out about a compliment, that’s our problem, not the problem of the complimenter. The goal then is for us to get comfortable with receiving compliments. How do we do that? Keep reading.
What Do We Do to Feel Better About Compliments?
I searched around the web to get a sense of what others suggest about how to feel better about receiving a compliment, but in doing so I came up with some of my own ideas. I will share those with a sprinkling of suggestions from others.
Lower the standards you hold for yourself: I recall being in high school when one of my aunts told me that I expect way too much of myself and that I needed to cut myself a break. I now offer that same advice to you, and me. Lower the standards you hold for yourself and embrace the compliment rather than feeling weird about receiving it. You obviously did something of high standard to have achieved it.
You are getting the compliment for a reason; trust it: When someone gives us a compliment, they are doing it because that is how they feel about us or about what we have done. As such, do you and them a favor: accept it. Even if what you did was not to your standards, what you did was enough for the complimenter. Therefore, let that be enough for you too.
Understand that you are making an impact: When you are given a compliment, that is someone else thanking you for the impact you had on them. You could have saved them time, made their job easier, solved a problem that they couldn’t solve, inspired them to do something they had never thought possible, or maybe you simply made them feel better. Therefore, rather than over thinking how you should respond, thereby making the compliment all about you, glow in the fact that you made a major impact on the life of someone else. What is your natural reaction to that? Hopefully it is a smile and say, “Thank You.” Now, that is not all that hard.
Compliments are a wonderful thing. They let you know you are doing something worthwhile and that you are offering positive impact. There is no need to overthink what you need to say or do. A compliment is not all about you. It is about the gift the complimenter is sharing with you. Simply acknowledging that gift with a smile and Thank You will suffice.