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Compliments – Giving and Taking Them

Why do people find it so difficult when giving and taking compliments? Most people do not really know what to do or say when they receive a compliment or want to give one. In some cultures compliments are given freely. In other cultures it is actually considered to be impolite to accept a compliment and actually polite to deny them. This self development article sheds a little light on the subject.

Main reasons for not accepting a compliment

* You feel insecure
* You under-rate yourself
* You do not trust the 'flattery'
* You feel shy and embarrassed
* You do not feel worthy of praise
* You think you may appear arrogant
* You feel vulnerable and uncomfortable
* You assume they are trying to chat you up
* Your culture taught you that you should be modest
* You are not able to cope with people being nice to you
* You feel suspicious about what they might want from you
* You feel you should downplay your abilities and achievements

Many people cannot accept compliments because of their fears, hang-ups, poor self esteem, lack of confidence, etc. At the other end of the scale there is the fear of giving them. Here are just a few reasons why people find it difficult to give a compliment.

Main reasons for not giving a compliment

* You feel awkward
* You think you will be laughed off
* You feel jealous of the other person
* You worry that it will be ignored or denied
* You fear the other person will feel more superior
* You find it easier to criticise than to say something nice
* You worry about offending them if it doesn’t come out correctly

Much of this is to do with the sincerity behind the words. Here are a few self development tips that may help.

How to compliment sincerely

Make the compliment specific
This shows that you have noticed something particular about them. It can have more impact to say "That tie really goes well with your suit" rather than just "You look great."

Support your compliment
Explaining why you are complimenting someone shows more sincerity. You might add "...because both your suit and tie match your skin tone."

Continue with a query
By continuing with "Did you buy them on your recent holiday?" you are showing that it was not just a one-off remark but genuine interest. A query also allows the other person to take the conversation into their preferred direction.

Avoid compliments that use comparative words
Examples of these words are greatest, more, sweeter, etc. People who find it difficult to take a compliment will usually deny these. It is best not to compare them to something or someone else.

Explain the positive effect they have had on you
"That project you did has made the team get noticed by the CEO." They cannot deny the compliment as a third party is involved.

How to accept a compliment

Always acknowledge the compliment instead of trying to play it down. Just a simple "Thank you" is enough. The main reason for being appreciative is that if you deny the compliment it often comes across as arrogant or rude. Also, when you do not acknowledge compliments it makes people feel that their opinion is worthless.

If what you are being complimented on (or your 'achievement') was assisted by others, give them credit too. Overall it shows real confidence if you accept a compliment graciously.

Compliments – the effect of giving and taking them

* They raise self esteem, confidence and self worth
* They make you more aware of abilities and achievements
* They can dramatically change someone’s general outlook on life
* The more you give the more you notice the good in others – and vice versa
* You see yourself from other people’s point of view and this is often pleasantly surprising!

Summary

Compliments are closely associated with self esteem and self confidence. Very often it is because people focus so much on their negative traits that a compliment is difficult to believe and accept. In general, unless you are comfortable with yourself, it is hard to give and take compliments.

The great thing about compliments is that they can make both parties feel special and boost self confidence. If you compliment someone in a sincere way, and they accept it in the right way, it is a win-win situation as achievements are celebrated and stronger relationships are developed.

This self development article just touches the surface. If you would like to read more about 'Compliments' do have a look at these links:

compliments (Amazon.com), compliments (Amazon.co.uk).

(Disclosure: Dr Madden is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme)

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