Does receiving and accepting a compliment make us more or less powerful?
Many studies show that it is harder to receive a compliment then give one for a few reasons. First off, receiving a compliment means letting go of control. When we give, we’re in control in a certain way. It might be easy to offer a kind word or buy someone flowers, but can we allow ourselves to surrender to the good feeling of receiving?
When we receive a compliment, we open up the vulnerability in ourselves and that is hard for many people who have trouble with letting go of control. Another reason receiving a compliment is harder than giving one is that we ultimately think it is selfish. Whether it is due to our culture or religion, many people are taught that it is better to be modest than bring more attention to themselves.
Being socialized to view taking compliments as narcissistic is a problem many of us face.
You would rather reject the compliment and keep the attention off of yourself. Another reason we may reject compliments is a little bit sad but it can resonate with many of us.
We sometimes reject compliments because it is our defense mechanism against intimacy.
When you receive a compliment, you create a connection between you and the giver. Many of us fear intimacy, so we try to distance ourselves and defend our hearts. At the end of the day, regardless of whether it is hard to receive a compliment or not, it is still something most people desire. As Mother Teresa said:
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
We can all agree on what are some of the better, as well as some of the worst, compliments we have received. The problem with most compliments is that they all take on a similar syntactic pattern of “your noun looks so adjective.” You could take a quartet of words and shuffle them one-armed-bandit style to produce endless combinations of compliments using this single sentence structure, and that’s exactly what people do half of the time without even realizing it. Even though giving someone a compliment may be well intentioned, compliments like “your hair looks nice” is used so often that it starts lacking ingenuity.
Good examples of compliments are always more specific than not.
For example, complimenting a woman the same day she got her haircut shows a bit more effort. One can try saying something like “your new haircut looks really good on you, it brings out your blue eyes so well.” Not only are you complimenting the haircut, but you are showing that you are being receptive. It is important to make sure that the complement is relevant and appropriately motivated. If this compliment is given while sitting at a bar, than the woman is just going to assume it is to make her feel good and nothing more. If you know your friend is getting a haircut and THEN you give this same compliment, then it has a whole different connotation. It shows that you knew your friend was getting a haircut on that day and you wanted to compliment how well it was done, possibly tackling any insecurities she had about her “new do.”
So next time you give a compliment, take an extra second to properly formulate it.
That one second that you take to think about a little extra detail or non-verbal action in your compliment, could make all the difference. It could make your “that dress looks nice” turn into a “that dress really hugs your curves nicely and the color is perfect for your skin tone.” If you must, a simple google search can help tremendously, like when researching anything else. There are a ton of resources waiting to explored when it comes to compliments for girlfriends, compliments for friends and even compliments for guys.
Next time you are on the receiving end of a compliment, try and accept it.
Not only is it good for your soul every now and then, but it makes the person giving you the compliment feel great as well. Nothing makes your friends and loved ones happier than knowing something that the did made you feel good. So go put down your coffee and give that cute guy or pretty girl a compliment they won’t forget.