How (And Why) We Should Accept Compliments

I’ve never been good at accepting compliments. Now don’t get me wrong. I want the compliments- sometimes way too often I have craved the compliments but I was never good at accepting them. With that, I was called out publicly a few years ago on a mastermind call that I was on with John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire. I don’t remember who it was, I think it was Roger Whitney, the host of the Retirement Answerman Podcast who gave me the compliment. Roger is my friend yet the compliment took me by surprise. Others in the group agreed with him and I responded with a very muted, okay, thanks, or the whole ‘it’s no big deal type of thing.

And John called me out on it, which I so appreciated as painful as it was in the moment. And this is why I love masterminds. And why I love accountability. I don’t respond well when people complain about judgment or they say ‘who are you to question me on what I did? You can have a great life- go do your thing- but we’re not going to relate. I like challenges,. Especially when they come from people who care about me. And if you can’t take constructive criticism from somebody who cares about you, you’re always going to be limited in your growth. So some people can call it criticism, but it was one of the best pieces of advice.

John basically said to me, don’t do that. You need to be able to handle compliments better than you do. And he explained that we are diminishing the other person’s gratefulness by doing that. And I’ve never really thought of it that way. Actually, I know I’ve never thought of it that way. I always thought that I was being humble. I didn’t want to brag. I didn’t want to pound my chest and say, yeah, I did do that. Nobody loves somebody that does that.

But there’s a big difference between being quiet, defensive, and evasive than there is from the bragger. It’s actually two ends of the spectrum and neither of them is good. So I’ve met John many times. I’ve seen him at conferences. He gets swarmed by people, often people that want to tell them how much he’s helped them with this podcast. And he mentioned to me how he handles compliments. He handles it with a lot of gratitude and appreciation and he makes sure that there’s a big smile that goes with it. As well as a giant, thank you. And the appreciation for this person to go out of their way to give him a compliment.

You have to understand that true thankfulness does not give off an appearance of vanity or excessive pride. What you are doing is you are appreciating that person’s compliments and giving them recognition. Now I’m going to guess that if you’re listening, you probably don’t go overly crazy on self-praise. It’s just a guess. I’m also going to guess that you might go way on the other end and you might deflect or even feel uncomfortable but what’s even worse is if you reject it. But when you reject the compliment, you are not only downplaying yourself, but you’re downplaying them as well. And without meaning it you’re downplaying their intelligence because if they truly believe in what you did and they’ve truly given you a great compliment, and you tell them that it wasn’t any good or it really wasn’t worth it, Basically what you’re telling them is that their opinion is accurate.

It’s an insult to the person giving you the compliment. So when you reject or deflect a compliment, what you’re really doing is you’re projecting the idea that you have low self-esteem. I’m sure you’ve had it where you’ve given a compliment and it’s been blown off. It’s happened to me. And I don’t know about you, but I feel that way. I feel like I gave a compliment, I believed in them and they didn’t believe in themselves. And it made me feel like maybe I was wrong in thinking that way.

Somebody else we might want to avoid when you’re in that spot is to get into a compliment comparison. Have you ever done it? When somebody gives you a compliment and you have to give them a compliment right back.

Someone says, ‘Your hair looks great! And you immediately respond with ‘Oh, your hair looks great too!’. And they’re like, I’m wearing a hat. And you might think, why couldn’t I just accept their compliment? Instead, I needed to give it right back. And now it seems phony because what will happen is you’ll come across insincere. So to begin with your deflecting, you’re getting it away from yourself, which goes back to what we talked about earlier. But you have to think about this- were you really going to compliment that person on what you did compliment them on?

Would you have just walked up to that person and said, ‘Your hair looks great today when they’re wearing a hat? No, of course, you wouldn’t. It’s got to be sincere. It’s got to be meaningful. And it’s got. to be honest. So stop doing that. Instead, take the compliment, appreciate it, smile, and be grateful and say, thank you. And the next time you feel that way about somebody, whether it’s their hair or something they did or work they created, give them the compliment and do it with sincerity and don’t do it because you want to get into a compliment comparison.

The keyword I learned from this when accepting a compliment is gratitude. Be appreciative and be accepting. Accept it without the deflecting. Accept it without denying it. Own it. And don’t put yourself down when someone gives you a compliment.

I hope you come away from this thinking about compliments little differently. Think of a compliment as a gift that was given to you. It’s a gift that you really wanted. And it’s a gift that was appropriate. Now, envision this person getting you this gift. They go out of their way. They pick it up, they pay for it, and they wrap it. They bring it to you and they hand it to you as a thank you. Now, imagine getting the gift, unwrapping it, looking at it and becoming uncomfortably awkward, and then giving it back to them. How rude and insulting does that sound?

Well, you’re doing the same thing when you don’t accept a compliment. That gave you something special. So tomorrow we’re going to talk about the comparison trap, which is a painful one for so many of us.

P.S.- I want to announce something cool for you. If your story fits, I would love to try to make you A part of this podcast. As you can see, we’re doing different themes and I’m not joking when I say I already have a year and a half of possible themes that we can bring to you on the show. What I want from you is your story and your suggestions on themes.

If you’re an entrepreneur that’s written a book, that’s overcome the fear that has stories regarding speaking, getting out of debt, dealing with ADHD as an entrepreneur, marketing, membership, pricing- it runs the gamut of what we’re learning in this world.

I’ll be compiling a list of the different themes we’re working on so you can see them and maybe you’ll fit into one of them. So if you have an interesting story that either gets elevated for the main interview or possibly more likely a monologue piece that I will do about you and your story and the lesson that came from it, I want to bring that to our community and the listeners to show the world what’s possible. So I’d love to collaborate together on this. I’m going to put a link in today’s show notes.

And in that link, you can tell me a little bit about yourself, why the story is unique and good for the show, and hopefully, we can make this happen. So excited about this. I’m looking forward to all these themes!

Here is the form to fill out to possibly be featured on The Total Life Freedom Podcast


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