Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to Take a Compliment

Can't you take a joke? Yes. Absolutely. Can't you take a compliment? Now that's a different story.


Recently, someone complimented my hair. It doesn't seem too blog-worthy, really, but I definitely learned from it. She said something kind and sincere like, "I love your hair! Have you gotten it done recently?" and my gut reaction was "ew, no." Here's the problem: "Ew, no" was what I said out loud, too. I rattled off a list longer than my locks on what was wrong with it. Split ends, roots, frizzy, the whole nine yards. She smiled and nodded, had nothing else to say, and I quickly realized I had made a mistake. 


You've probably heard the phrase "We accept the love we think we deserve." I would argue the same is true for compliments. We accept the compliments we think we deserve. So this is what I've learned lately:

Accept what you deserve
Obviously, don't take credit for something you don't deserve. If you worked on a project with a group, make sure you mention others who were involved in its success. If you borrowed a sweater from a friend and someone else likes it, give Sweater Girl a shout-out (or she probably won't let you borrow her sweaters anymore!) However, if it you are complimented on something that is personal to you, say a genuine thank you, and move on. No self-defense needed.  

Ignore your insecurities
This was my problem. I had a long line-item list of things that were wrong with my hair, and I chose to divulge them to her. The thing is, that puts the person complimenting you in a really awkward position. (Trust me from experience on this.) People don't typically go out of their way to say nice things unless they honestly mean them. Appreciate that, and give sincere thanks when someone is kind to you.

Take the focus off of yourself
When some people are given a compliment, they use it as a platform to talk about themselves. Oh, you love my hair? Awesome, I used Biolage Shampoo and Conditioner, my favorite Hot Tools curling wand, Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Hairspray, etc. etc. etc. Now I obviously didn't do that, but here's the kicker: I was still focused on myself. Rather than using her compliment as a right to brag, I used it as an open-door to start a conversation about everything that I didn't like about myself. There will always be things that we don't like about ourselves, but when another person sincerely appreciates them, I think that instead of raising a platform for self-doubt, it should help us to appreciate those things more. 


I've made a sincere effort since then to accept compliments that I deserve, even when I might feel like I could have done better or had frizzy hair. Has anybody else had an experience like this - either being the complimenter or the compliment-ee? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Photos were left unedited, and all compliments go to Nick Warnock.


  1. I used to be really bad with compliments, now I'm a little better. I've realised overtime that it's rude not to accept it. Especially when it's the other way around and you compliment someone and they respond in a negative way- it ruins it.

  2. I've been trying to be more graceful in excepting compliments too. I tend to show my awkwardness by making a joke about myself... that's not always funny. Or I immediately start explaining: "Oh thanks, I'm glad you like my jacket, I've had it forever, bought it at a Goodwill for $5, it tears a little on inside and smells a little like moth balls, I don't love the fit but I love the color..." At this point I can hear the voices in my head going "Stop! Stop talking! Smile and walk away! Try again next time"

  3. Ooh, this something I am not good at! I know I need to (and want to) get better at it. You are so right, it is about insecurities. Thanks for the tips!

  4. love this post! Such great advice!

  5. I also have a hard time accepting compliments, even from my husband. This is such a great reminder to accept what others say about you.

  6. I'm bad at taking compliments as well. I definitely need to get better at it! Thanks for this great article.