Can you take a joke? Yes. Absolutely. Can 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 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 feel like I could have done better. 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.
*This post originally appeared on Ana’s blog, She Learns Things.