By the time you crawl into the office, you’ve probably spent an hour changing outfits and practising your presentation. Yet when you get a ‘Cool outfit’ here or a ‘Really inspirational talk’ there, you mumble something about it being no big deal. Why? Because, as women, we are masters at dodging compliments.
‘We’re often unconvinced that the person giving the compliment really means it,’ says Natacha Sdralis of The Mindspa Institute. How often have you told yourself, ‘Oh, she has to say that, I’m her daughter/friend/employee’ or ‘She’s only being nice to get on my good side’? Essentially, you’re being bullied – by yourself. Developmental psychologist Dr Robyn Silverman said on The Today Show that an ‘inner body bully’ makes you deny the flattery. ‘But taking a compliment actually helps us improve our self-esteem, which eventually allows us to achieve more,’ says Claire Newton, a Durban psychologist, speaker, trainer and life coach. So the more compliments you take, the more compliments you’ll get.
Train yourself to accept praise…
…From your boss
Your boss praises a project you’ve been working on.
The knee-jerk reaction You pass the compliment over to another employee or point out flaws in your work.
Accept your applause! Simply say, ‘Thank you, I really appreciate your feedback. I have worked hard on it and I appreciate your telling me you noticed.’
- If others really were involved, say, ‘Thank you. Elizabeth was involved in this too – I will let her know that you are pleased with the result.’
- Don’t point out flaws right off the bat. Even if there are problems, they can be addressed later.
…From your family
Your family compliments you on how well you’re coping with work.
The knee-jerk reaction You make them work to give you the compliment, saying, ‘You’re just saying that because I’m your daughter.’
Accept your applause! Say, ‘Thanks so much. I love that my family thinks that of me.’
- Don’t dismiss the compliment simply because it comes from members of your family. Their opinion is just as worthwhile as a friend or colleague’s opinion.
…From your friends
A friend compliments the way you look in your new jeans.
The knee-jerk reaction You dismiss it by saying something such as, ‘Oh please, you look so much better in skinny jeans.’
Accept your applause!
Say, ‘Oh, thank you! They’re new.’
- If you can’t trust yourself not to deflect, avoid or dismiss the compliment, simply say ‘thank you’ and move on.
…From a stranger
A stranger compliments your smile/outfit at a coffee shop.
The knee-jerk reaction You think to yourself that he/she must be crazy.
Accept your applause! Say, ‘Thank you. You made my day!’
- Don’t think the stranger has a sinister ulterior motive or is coming on to you. Accept the compliment at face value.
- Don’t turn it into a long, heavy discussion by asking, ‘Oh, do you really think so? What about this red scarf? I’m not so sure…’
WELL DONE, YOU!
Celebrate little things you can be proud of
If you rewarded yourself (with something other than food) Used your best linen and towels for yourself? Good for you!
If you learned a new skill Enrolling in a dance class or furthering your education at night classes should be congratulated. You should feel empowered.
If you said ‘no!’ In general women are raised to please others, so we fall into the trap of saying ‘yes’ to every request.
When you say ‘no’ to a favour that would push you over the edge, you should be proud. If you relaxed Did you spend last weekend doing nothing? Very nice work!
If you found some me-time If you used public transport and did some reading on the way to work or did some creative writing while waiting at the doctor’s, you did something good today.
If you let go of the guilt This is perhaps the most important of all. Being able to let go of feeling bad for rewarding yourself is a life-enhancing gift. Ditch the guilt and feel pleased with yourself for doing so! ⌘
Source: Durban psychologist Claire Newton