“Wow! I love that new asymmetrical haircut. You look five years younger!”
“Yeah, but I can never get it to look as good as they do at the salon.”
“Whoa, have you lost weight? That dress looks fabulous!”
“What about you? Those fringe booties are precious. Where’d you get them?”
“You’ve got to share your bread pudding recipe with me. This is amazing!”
“Oh please. You can’t tell the difference between mine and the store-bought stuff.”
All of these are compliment worthy occasions. Yet all too often, when praise is given, women feel the need to deflect or even reject it. Why do we find it so difficult to graciously accept compliments? When did it become second nature to lavish compliments on others but not believe them when given to us? These are tough questions, but a genuine compliment can always be accepted with poise. If this is something you struggle with—as we all do sometimes—we’re here to help.
The easiest way to accept a compliment is the tried and true “thank you,” but going beyond the “thank you” allows you to capitalize on a compliment. Use the opportunity to foster a relationship or find out more about the other person. JLNO Provisional Taylor Sergeant says, “sometimes I spill the details of where I got my pants, how I’m trying a new hairstyle, whatever. Nowadays I allow compliments to be conversation pieces.” For a different perspective, JLNO Active member Sarah T. Aucoin spoke about her time working with children at ARC of Greater New Orleans. “It was common for the children that I would care for to give me drawings, etc. I would always try and point out my favorite part of the drawing or object, instead of saying just thank you. This usually started a conversation. Using this technique taught them a good way to accept compliments and gifts naturally and gracefully.”
If compliments unnerve you, consider this: when you reject a compliment, the praise-giver may feel insulted by the inference that they are being insincere, which can lead to an awkward exchange. Autumn Campbell, JLNO Provisional, says some women use humility as a way to elicit compliments from their inner circle. She continues, “My hope would be that we could skip the self-deprecation and go straight to accepting the positive affirmation of those who care about and love us.” Still, it’s possible a compliment may highlight someone’s insecurities. Autumn suggests practicing empathy when facing rejection. “I’m aware that the rejection is more a reflection of the rejecter than the complimenter, so I seek to understand their perspective when I receive a response outside of what I was expecting.” Sarah believes we should strive to find the good at the core of any compliment and internalize it, “We should focus less on accepting a compliment and more on appreciating it instead." Taylor concurs, saying, "Not only would this create opportunity for connection with others, but it would naturally allow women to feel good about themselves, whether it’s how they look, carry themselves, or speak.” What a beautiful message for us all.