How To Take Compliments: A Guide For The Insecure Woman


The other day, our writer Amanda reflected on how she wishes she could learn to take a compliment after an uncomfortable incident with a flattering partner. For those who hate links, the gist of the situation: he called her sexy, she got annoyed, he insisted she learn to take a compliment, she got angry, he got upset, she told him he would soon lose a testicle if he pushed the discussion further. As she wrote, all Amanda really wants to say to those who flatter her is, “Shut the fuck up and quit being nice for the sake of being nice,” but wondered if anybody else had advice on how to take a compliment.

As the comments that followed showed, she’s not alone in her dilemma. One reader wrote:

I have people giving me compliments for any little thing. It makes me feel like they are being insincere because I don’t feel that way. It doesn’t even matter what it is for, but yet at the same time I do want people to at least acknowledge some of the stuff I do.

Other commenters said they felt uncomfortable with compliments, as well, and they respond by feigning surprise or pointing out why the admirer is wrong. As for myself, I tend to blush furiously and attempt to thank the other person as well as possible, but I absolutely cannot make eye contact. No clue why, I just feel weird and awkward, so I act grateful but look in a completely different direction while doing so, which I am trying to change because I have a feeling it comes off pretty awkwardly.

Sometimes, when we feel a certain way about ourselves, it’s hard to imagine that others may see us in a different light. (Note: This statement is definitely true for me, but I don’t necessarily speak for e’erbody else, mmk?) However, there are ways to learn to take compliments — it is possible! You may just have to fake it until you make it, or think carefully about intent before you respond.

Photo: somegeekintn / Flickr

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    • MR

      Yeah, believe in yourself – and not because so many others do.

    • Lastango

      I’m sorry I missed Amanda’s post. Because I can’t inwardly accept a social compement, I have a physical and verbal formula I use. Someone saying, “That’s a really nice shirt” brings out my standard “Oh, thank you very much. I’m pleased you like it!”, combined with a smile, a bit of body english and followed by a momentary, dramatic pause. I’ve got it down pat. Maybe 1/5 of the time someone sees through the act and says, “No, really!”, but mostly I get away with it.

      (I cope much better with factual, positive feedback about something I’ve done or produced. That matters to me — I want people to appreciate what I do and contribute.)

      Because I’m sensitive to the burden of coping with complements, I’ve given some thought to being on the other side, and now I’m a much better complement-giver. I always tie the complement to specifics. Sometimes I weave the complement into the context, so it’s not phrased the same way as the typical meaningless social complement. For instance, instead of “I love your rose bushes, they’re so beautiful!”, I might say something like, “What you’ve done with these wonderful rose bushes works so well with these stones and borders. It really makes your walkway a special place.” If I was complementing Jamie’s new haircut, “Oh, that’s cute” won’t do. She will have already heard that. Instead I’ll say it’s especially attractive on her, and that she has the features to wear such a striking cut. (I won’t ask for the details, because she’s aware that, as a guy, I know jack about women’s hair.)

      Anyway, I’ve had a lot of success with my complementing style, and people have told me they appreciate what I’ve said. I think that’s because I show that I have some sense of what they’ve personally put into whatever it is I’m complementing.

      I find it harder to complement a store-bought item, like a new car. Saying “That’s a sharp new ride you’ve got there!” is ok as a start, but needs to be followed with, “What do you like best about it?” That gives them a chance to talk about how they picked it out, and list its positive qualities. Meanwhile, I’m nodding in approval. I don’t think of that as manipulative. I’m showing that I like them, and that I’m interested in what they do, and I support them and their choices.
      But all that said, I still struggle with receiving most complements at the time I’m hearing them. I do savour them later, though!

    • March

      Excellent advice!

    • Alexis

      It’s interesting, I’ve just started dating a guy who compliments me *constantly*. And it took a lot of getting used to. He’s always saying I’m pretty/gorgeous/beautiful. And I have good self-esteem; I think I’m pretty and all. But it feels weird to hear someone say it! I generally just give a silly “that totally wasn’t relevant to the conversation” smile and say thank you.
      I asked my best friend how he deals with it because I know he gets complimented on his looks all the damn time and he says he’s just used to it. He did say he wishes he got more compliments on other stuff, though.

    • esther maria

      i know how to get a compliments….but lets state i never get compliments=(