On Taking Compliments

If you’re anything like me when somebody compliments you or something you’ve done your initial reaction is to be self-deprecating. “Aww, thanks, but it’s not that good.” or “Thank you! But I really could have done better with …”

Does that sound familiar?

It’s a tough pattern to break. I do a hit and miss job on it myself.

This morning I got an e-mail from a friend who had just read Luxury of Less. She was very kind and complimentary and I almost responded: “Aww thanks! But I wrote that 3 years ago and don’t feel like I did as good a job as I could have. (though I guess all writers feel like that about their old works)”

How insulting and disrespectful to her.

I took a step back and rewrote it as: “Wow, thank you [name]. I really appreciate that.”

That might not be perfect, but it’s magnitudes better. It acknowledges the thank you without diminishing it.

Self-deprecation can be funny, of course, but it might also be a sign of the loser mentality. Better to use it as little as possible.

I know it’s difficult taking compliments, but next time somebody offers one to you just say “thank you, I appreciate that,” if you have nothing else positive to say. They’ll thank you for it.

{ 9 comments… add yours }

Celia Jackson

I focus on the negative in my achievements all the time – my Mother did it to me when I was little and it took me years (40+ …) to find out what was going on. It’s constant hard work not to talk myself down all the time – have to watch myself like a hawk – but I’m going to keep at it :)

Reply

Karol

I think maybe society teaches us to not be prideful. It’s kind of the crabs in a bucket mentality. So no worries that it’s taken you 40 years to figure it out. At least it wasn’t 50!

Reply

Celia Jackson

In the UK blowing your own trumpet is generally frowned upon, particularly for women. So it takes practice to strike the balance between confidence and show-offiness; but if you work in a male-dominated environment (as I do) then you have to speak out – or you just get ignored! (… I am getting off-topic here, sorry.)
What is “crabs in a bucket”!? That’s a new one on me.

Reply

Karol

I wrote about it on my old site (sorry for the ads, not my site anymore): http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/crabs-in-a-bucket/

Reply

Indre Kitty Paula

This is an official e-mail to Karol Gajda. My non pen name is Indre Paulauskaite. Back in the day I was nicknamed Sky I read your amazing book on Five Rings of Minimalism and been really inspired ever since. This was more than a year or so ago. :)

Reply

Karol

Thanks Indre. Happy to know you enjoyed the book!

Reply

Celia Jackson

Thanks for the link Karol – now I understand. As a ‘teacher’ I encourage my students to think big, be fearless, and push themselves farther than they imagined they could go – and every day with them is exciting and unexpected!

Reply

Laura

I learned the response “Thank you, it’s true!” from mamagenas.com

Probably not quite right for an email from a fan, but it’s fun to practice with your girlfriend or friends.

Reply

Karol

hehe, I like it … reminds me of my friend Mike’s recent post http://hrostoski.com/2013/01/step-into-your-greatness/

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: