The Art of Receiving a Compliment: Why It’s So Hard for Women to Receive Praise
Have you ever noticed the difference between when a man receives a compliment versus a woman? A man doesn’t make excuses or act surprised to receive it. He almost acts as if he was expecting it. Men take compliments in stride. Women, on the other hand, can sometimes have the opposite reaction. See, there is an art to receiving a compliment and it isn’t always easy. Why is it so hard for women to receive genuine praise?
Oh, This Old Thing? I Bought This Years Ago
Has someone given you a compliment about something you were wearing and your response immediately went to how long you’ve had it? It can be a total stranger and we will still give them the backstory of this shirt or handbag being out of style. Something tells me that the person giving the compliment wasn’t concerned about how long you’ve had it because they were busy admiring it.
Thank You, But…
Receiving a compliment and then following it up with a “but” is kind of like apologizing then saying “but you hurt me first.” It denotes the original intent. It leaves the person giving the compliment feeling like they now need to justify themselves or convince you otherwise. However, it’s not the other person’s job to convince you of how worthy you are. That is something that is your sole responsibility.
The Reason It’s Difficult For You To Receive A Compliment
Typically, difficulty receiving compliments is related to low self-esteem. Were you expecting me to say that? I know, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Especially if you don’t necessarily think you have low self-esteem. When someone gives you a compliment about how well you did on a presentation, but you had already thought of reasons you tanked it that can leave you feeling uncomfortable.
You may feel as though you don’t deserve the compliment. It’s easier for those of us that feel good about ourselves and the work we’ve done to openly receive a compliment. Knowing that you have done a job well done is not being conceited. It simply means that you have an understanding of yourself and your accomplishments. If you’ve worked hard on something you deserve the acknowledgement.
Now, don’t get me wrong, just because someone has difficulty receiving praise doesn’t automatically mean they possess low self-esteem. There are other factors to consider such as culture and upbringing for example. Some of us have been taught from a young age that we weren’t good enough and that we could always do better. So even when we try our hardest we are still left with this nauseating feeling of disappointment.
It Takes Courage To Give A Compliment
Let’s switch it up a little. Think about a time you have given someone a compliment and they met you with minimization or excuses as to why it could have been better. How did it leave you feeling? Were you likely to give them another one anytime soon? My guess is probably not. See, it takes courage to give a compliment. You are being vulnerable with someone by expressing how you feel and let’s face it, that’s not easy for some of us. Keep this in mind the next time you respond to someone’s gratitude or praise.
Why It’s Different For Women
We are taught at a very young age to be gracious, humble, and put the needs of others before our own. Some were raised with the mentality of being seen and not heard. Or some aren’t used to compliments because they were only recognized when they misbehaved or did something wrong. No wonder many of us are not used to praise!
Just because you were brought up a certain way does not mean you have to continue living that way as an adult. One of the cool things about being “grown” is having the ability to make up your own mind, raise your family the way you want to, and make a life for yourself. Women are beginning to realize that if we do not take care of ourselves first then we won’t be able to be there emotionally and physically for our family and friends. Start from within then work your way out.
When someone gives you a compliment simply say “thank you.” You don’t need to tell them how you could have done better or how dated your outfit is. Even if you don’t necessarily believe what they are telling you say thank you anyway. It’s good practice!
Reject the notion that receiving a compliment makes you conceited, self-centered, or selfish.
Remember that it takes courage for someone to step outside of themselves and give you praise. Keep this in mind when you’re responding to them.
If you experience low self-esteem try some exercises to increase it such as saying daily affirmations to yourself while looking in the mirror, making a list of things you like/love about yourself on a piece of paper, or putting compliments to yourself on sticky notes around your office.
Maegon Renee is a licensed therapist and your go-to for self-care. She is an expert of emotional wellness. Her passion and purpose in life is teaching women how to take themselves from a place of hurting to place of healing through education, therapy, and podcasts. When she's not motivating women to the best versions of themselves personally and professionally, you can typically find her sipping a large cup of coffee, playing with her miniature weenie dog, dancing around the house, watching a variety of shows from Real Housewives of the OC to Golden Girls, and giggling with her love she lovingly refer to as Freckles.
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