Why Is It So Hard For Us To Accept Compliments?

Some of us feel quite uncomfortable when people compliment us, and here’s why this happens.

Scenario 1:

Jeena: You look great today!
Rachel: Gee! Uh.. what? Oh, thank….thank you! (nervous laughter)

Does this sound relatable? Do you also find yourself at a loss of words when someone compliments you? You take time to thank them as you find it surprising. If yes, chances are that you too, like Rachel, find it hard to accept compliments.

Compliments are comments intended for praise and admiration. From the inference, we can gather that compliments are something good, positive, so why did Rachel here; tripped nervously.

Simply put, when you have a view of yourself and the other person’s statement (who just complimented you) has put the former into question. In our scenario, Rachel wasn’t confident about how she carried herself and when Jeena praised them, their view of themselves stood contradicted. Not only in terms of appearance, this can also happen when someone compliments your work, habits, personality, etc.

People often find it difficult to take compliments due to low self-esteem, discomfort with big expectations, and cognitive dissonance. They just find it unusual to hear kind words from others.

Some people are unable to accept compliments because they wish to remain humble. They may feel awkward because accepting the compliment requires them to acknowledge the fact that they are good at something. As per some studies, humility is often linked to higher self-control and effective leadership.

Let’s break it down the main reasons now, shall we:

1. Low Self-esteem

This situation occurs when a person is not so confident about themselves and sells themselves short. When you think low of yourself, you find it hard to believe, no matter what the other person is saying. You don’t trust their words and try to dismiss them.

According to a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, people with low self-esteem have the most difficulty in accepting the compliments they receive. You even start doubting the other person’s judgment. At work, it could take the form of imposter syndrome, where you feel it was all luck and you are fooling everyone.

2. Fear of high expectations

People with low self-worth set the bar too low for themselves and try to only meet those expectations. And even when they do so, they are surprised. For them, a compliment means expectations to keep their performance up and do better.

You might feel under pressure with new responsibilities, and it can be terrifying. You live in constant fear of not meeting those expectations. The compliments only increase your self-doubt, and you think that the other person is setting themselves up for disappointment by trusting you.

3. Cognitive Dissonance

According to Medical News Today, “Cognitive dissonance is a theory in social psychology. It refers to the mental conflict that occurs when a person’s behaviors and beliefs do not align.”

You get uncomfortable and anxious when you receive a compliment because it doesn’t align with your self-conception. You feel either the other person is just being nice or trying to manipulate you. It happens when you are sure that their conception is not right.

When the anxiety starts building up, you often say, “Oh, I just got lucky this time.” This is your way to relieve the tension, mostly because your self-image doesn’t line up with the person’s description of you.

How To Accept Compliments Humbly?

To accept compliments gracefully, try to solve your self-esteem issues. When you are confident in who you are and your capabilities, it becomes easier to acknowledge your positive points.
Start with saying “thank you” and resist the urge to criticize yourself in order to look humble. For instance, you can say:

“Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.”
“Thank you for noticing.”

Remember, you deserve that compliment for the effort you put in. Accept it with a smile.

We receive the best compliments from our friends, as they are our biggest cheerleaders. Read this blog to know about the seven qualities of a healthy friendship. You can also check out our other blogs on the website.
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