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Anna Schultz-Girls In Diner Laughing
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

Seriously, Stop Deflecting Compliments

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Endicott chapter.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled to accept compliments from others. Whether it be a classmate telling me they love my shirt or a customer at work telling me I have a beautiful smile, my immediate reaction is to say “thank you” and quickly disregard the compliment, openly write it off, or immediately pass the credit. Although more often than not, these compliments are sincere and gracious, I am typically left with feelings of discomfort or uncertainty. Yet, I have never stopped to think about why. Why do I not like receiving compliments? More importantly, what would it feel like to take a pause and truly take the gratitude instead? After much thought, I have come to realize that compliments are little gifts of love that should be both given and received with care.

Why MAY i dislike receiving compliments?

When people say nice things in a cruel world, it can be difficult to always believe them. For instance, imagine that a classmate who you are working on a group project with says, “I love those shoes you are wearing!” Yes, this may just be a sincere comment from a genuine person. However, it is easy to anxiously question the motives of this classmate. Is she only being nice in order to achieve something? Is she trying to manipulate me by lying? Is she complimenting me out of pity? Is she only being nice to feel good about herself? These swirling negative thoughts suck all the meaning out of the compliment, making it difficult to graciously accept it. If you can relate to this, just know that you are not alone.

Another similar reason may be a lack of self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem often lack confidence and may feel unworthy of the kind words they were given. These words often contradict deeply held personal beliefs regarding ability level and/or appearance of oneself, thereby creating a sense of discomfort. Similarly, those who struggle with self-confidence may dislike being the center of attention. For example, imagine you walk into a room and someone shouts, “Oh my goodness, your haircut looks incredible!” It can be intimidating to have all eyes on you, especially when others could be judging you. To escape this situation as quick as possible, it seems easiest to simply say “thank you” and change the subject.

Finally, it can be difficult to enjoy receiving compliments when you do not know how to respond to one in the moment. We are taught from a young age to be humble and modest. In other words, bragging is bad. Therefore, when someone raves about you, it can feel almost automatic to want to shut them down as quickly as possible. I mean, just think about how conceited you might look if you were to just smile and nod along as someone continuously boasts about you. So, for some, accepting compliments may feel like an act of asserting superiority, rather than a grateful acknowledgment. Luckily, there are multiple ways to accept a compliment with grace and humility.

How can i accept a compliment?

If someone pays you a compliment, the best action step is to express gratitude by communicating thanks. It can be as simple as a “thank you.” Below, I have included a short list of gracious responses that are also acceptable.

  1. “Thank you; I appreciate it.”
  2. “You just made my day. Thank you so much!”
  3. “Thanks, that is nice of you to say.”
  4. “That is very sweet. Thank you!”
  5. “Thank you, that means a lot.”

When you downplay or reject a compliment, you actually are doing more harm than good. Downplaying or rejecting a compliment can indicate internal insecurities to the person that complimented you. It also can insult the person who gave you the compliment, suggesting that you do not value or respect their opinion. Therefore, if you dismiss a compliment because it makes you uncomfortable, you essentially are passing on that discomfort to the giver. This will make others less likely to give, and we all know that we need more kindness in this world. For that reason, a smile and a simple yet genuine “thank you” is more important than you may have previously realized.

Internalizing the compliment you were given is also important. By learning to not only verbally accept, but also to internally embrace compliments, you are one step closer to becoming more loving of yourself and fostering healthy relationships with those around you. At the end of each day, consider writing down any compliments you received. Really think about each one and try to articulate its effects on you. With each one, you should tell yourself it is true. By creating a list, either in a journal or on your phone, you are creating a resource for the times when you need some motivation or positivity. Re-reading the list can be a quick ego boost and can remind you of how others recognize your assets. After all, you are pretty amazing.

What are some positivity-boosting compliments?

Are you looking to brighten someone else’s day by giving them a compliment from the heart? Giving a compliment will not only make someone else feel noticed or valued, but it will also nourish your own self-esteem and strengthen your relationships with those around you. By appreciating and respecting others in a world filled with negativity and cynicism, we are slowly working towards the cultivation of a more positive society. Thus, let others see the good that you see in them. After all, it’s completely free.

Here is a short list of some compliments that go beyond physical looks.

  1. “You’re such an incredible friend. I appreciate you always being there for me.” 
  2. “I admire your ambition and your drive.”
  3. “Your laugh is contagious. It never fails to make me smile.”
  4. “I admire your creativity and ability to create such beautiful things.” 
  5. “You always see the best in others—your positive spirit inspires me to search for the good in the world, too.”
  6. “I love how optimistic you are. When I’m feeling down, I know I can always turn to you.” 
  7. “Thank you for being a such patient person. I always feel supported by you.”
  8. “I love how you support others. It means the world to all of us, even if we don’t say it often enough.”
  9. “I really admire how hardworking you are. It inspires me to be better.”
  10. “I admire your resiliency in the face of everything you’ve been through.” 
Lauren Nielson

Endicott '25

Hello! My name is Lauren and I am the Editor in Chief and Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Endicott College. I hope you enjoy reading my articles!