Why is it so hard to receive a compliment?

I recently complimented a young hospital technician on her beautiful dark hair. Her response was, I recently complimented a young hospital technician on her beautiful dark hair. Her response was, “It’s hair extensions.” I looked for a while and couldn’t see any evidence of added hair, so I said, “I can’t see that. It all looks like your hair.”

She stopped what she was doing, raised her beautiful wavy hair, and showed me how she taped an additional hair piece underneath her original hair. She said she went to her beautician, had it done, and was due for a visit soon. “Wow,” I say, “I would never have known.”

As I sat there and watched her, I thought about how much it takes to make your hair look thicker and more beautiful, so why not just say thank you? So I said that to her, and she flushed a little and said, “Thank you.”

I know how she feels because I sometimes struggle with accepting compliments. For example, when someone compliments an item of clothing or something, I find myself saying, “Oh, I got it at the store for a good price.”

Sometimes when I try to compliment another woman on how pretty she looks because of weight loss she had and how great her clothes fit, she will often say, “Oh, no, I need to lose another 10 pounds,” and if I say, “No, you look wonderful,” then the protests will continue. Why?

It could be a fear of appearing arrogant or proud. We may doubt the unconditional nature of the compliment or have a feeling of low self-esteem or even shyness.

However, compliments are healthy. A compliment is any sincere appreciation of a trait in someone or a behavior or an appearance. They make us feel good ? both giving and receiving them. Compliments help us communicate the appreciation we feel toward one another.

Sometimes, it may seem that most of our compliments are about how someone looks, especially on social media. When, in fact, we need someone to validate who we are or how we behave. Come to think of it, when I compliment someone on their behavior or how they treat others; I usually get a sincere thank you.

Yes, we want to hear that we look good but even more so, we want to hear that what we do in our lives, homes, work, and the world is valuable. And so do the people in our lives because feeling valued and appreciated is a basic human need.

When I compliment my grandchildren for helping or doing something without asking them to do it, they act more responsibly. When I praise my husband, he stands taller and glows a little. Compliments aren’t just for the receivers; they also benefit the giver.

When we don’t accept a sincere compliment, it downplays ourselves, makes the giver feel bad, or dismisses the giver’s opinion. On the contrary, when we accept a compliment, it boosts our self-confidence, shows we appreciate them, and improves our self-esteem.

My children always look at me funny when I compliment strangers in the grocery store or people I meet along the way. However, being generous with sincere compliments helps us notice and appreciate what’s good and what we like in those around us.

How can we accept those compliments that we are fortunate enough to receive in our lives? A sincere “Thank you” or “I appreciate your kind words” will do.

Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

[Read full bio]