Knowing how to give a good compliment is one of the most important social skills you need to thrive in our society. Knowing how to accept a compliment is equally important. However, there are people who just can’t seem to take a compliment. They become uncomfortable or withdrawn, or deflect the praise altogether. There are reasons that someone may behave this way, and by digging a little deeper you can help someone you care for learn to accept a compliment.
Reframe it so it’s about you.
He will have a hard time refuting it if you are talking about your own feelings.
”I’ve never seen eyes that blue before.”
“That piece you played on the piano made me feel so calm and serene.”
“Your smile just made my day!”
“I couldn’t have finished this project without you. You really helped me out and I appreciate it.”
People can spot a fake compliment a mile away and faking flattery will make you seem untrustworthy, which can sabotage a relationship.
Think about your reasons for giving praise. It should be to make someone else feel good and valued, not for your own personal gain.
Sometimes the most memorable compliments are the most specific ones, because it shows that you were paying attention.
“I liked how you handled the questions during your presentation today. You really helped the group find a solution that benefits everyone.”
“Your shirt is such a pretty color. It perfectly matches the color of your eyes.”
Sneak it in there.
Be creative in how you give a compliment to make people feel good indirectly.
Ask for the recipe if you like what she cooked, or ask for advice. She will feel valued.
Mention that someone else said something nice about her or talk about how much other people care about her.
Do charitable work together so she will see herself as someone who helps others.
Give compliments if you want to.
If giving compliments is part of your character, you don’t need to diminish that quality just because you get an unfavorable response from someone. If being complimentary part of who you are, go ahead and give out compliments.
In addition, even if the person struggles to accept your compliment, you may be activating the striatum region of his brain, which motivates him to perform better.
Compliments can also improve a person’s self-esteem. Again, the person doesn’t have to consciously “accept” the compliment for it to make an impact.
Limit trash talking about other people and talking about your own flaws.
Modeling positive behavior will help others realize how hard we are on each other and ourselves. You can be a good example of how a person can think positively about him- or herself and see his or her own value, so when you give a compliment the other person might believe you.
Eliminate “fat talk” and other negativity toward yourself and other people. Even if you are putting yourself down and not someone else or your friend, it can still have a negative influence.
This is particularly important around children and adolescents, who learn these behaviors from the adults in their lives.
Focus on people’s good qualities.
Part of helping build someone else’s self-esteem is to shine a light on the great things about her. Acknowledge that the other person may have room to grow in some areas of her life, but that she has other wonderful qualities.
Call him out on it if he deflects or rejects praise regularly.
People get into the habit of refuting anything good other people say about them, but pointing it out in a kind way will help the person recognize his behavior so he can start to learn how to accept praise gracefully.
Let him know that you wouldn’t have said anything if you didn’t believe it, and it hurts your feelings when he rejects or discounts your feelings toward him.
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Recognize self-esteem issues.
Unfortunately, some people really don’t like themselves. This can stem from growing up in an unsupportive environment or other factors and can be very hard to overcome.
A person with low self-esteem may hate compliments because it contradicts her negative view of herself and she can’t believe it.
She may worry that the compliment means you have high expectations that she can’t live up to, and that she is destined to disappoint you.
Find out about cultural differences.
Does the person come from a different country or culture than you do? That could have something to do with it.
Some cultures are averse to compliments because they feel it is like coddling and that you are treating them like a child.
In some cultures, to accept a compliment is to place yourself above others, which is unacceptable.
Think about gender differences.
Have you noticed that many women have a hard time accepting a compliment? They will do anything to convince you that you’re wrong or to minimize their positive aspects.
Women are conditioned to deflect praise because they are taught to be humble, unlike men.
Women are also taught not to make someone else feel bad in comparison, so they will deny praise so as not to hurt someone else’s feelings.