How To Take A Compliment

Posted: Saturday May 22 2021

By: Abbie Coleman


By Tracey Barraclough

I was about 12 when I learned in no uncertain circumstances, how to take a compliment.  I had thick, shiny blond hair that cascaded down my back but as an almost teenager and hormones beginning to rage, I had to wash it every day otherwise I was plagued with grease that meant I could probably fry chips on the top of my head.

I was out shopping with my very glamorous mum when we stepped in to a Ladies Boutique as they were called back then, for a quick browse.  The equally glamorous owner of the boutique recognised mum and as she approached with a very warm welcome, she turned to me and said, ‘what beautiful hair you’ve got.’  I looked at her as if I was sucking a lemon, and retorted ‘urgh, it’s horrible, it wants washing!’  That’s the first and last time that I’ve ever reacted to a compliment like that.

Outside the shop, mum turned on me; ‘Don’t ever do that again,’ she scolded.  ‘What have I done?’ I replied, bewildered by her attack.  ‘You were rude to that lady by calling her a liar when she said that you had beautiful hair.’  I felt perplexed and upset.  Mum went on to tell me that when anyone passed me a compliment in future, I must simply say thank you, because if I didn’t, then I was throwing it back in their face which wasn’t very nice.  Point taken.

It’s a predominantly female thing to react to a compliment in this way and I cringe every time that I hear it.  You know that response for example, to an outfit.  ‘Oh what this old thing, it was only £10 in Primark,’ or more recently when I personally complimented someone on how good they looked, ‘no I don’t, I look a right knackered mess.’  There isn’t really an answer to that, and I was offended because it was putting me down despite my understanding the psychology behind it.

Being able to graciously accept a compliment is a sign of confidence and high levels of self-worth.  If you find yourself unable to accept one, or constantly deflect them, then you might want to look at the reasons why.  However, I can almost guarantee that if a person does genuinely compliment you and you throw it back, then it’s unlikely that they’ll ever compliment you again.

If you do take a compliment though, then you are giving the other person the positive message that you trust their judgement and by receiving it you’re saying that you value what they have to say, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

The simplest way of graciously accepting a compliment is to look the person in the eye, smile and say thank you.  If you do feel the need to elaborate you could say, ‘thank you that means a lot,’ or ‘thank you I appreciate that.’  Keep your own power, give the other person theirs and ooze magnetic self-confidence.

tracey mum pic

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