Can’t take a compliment? Read. This. Now. Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble says that young people, in particular, don’t want to come off as great as they really are.
“Teens don’t want to be ‘up themselves’,” she says. “It’s very Australian to knock anyone who thinks highly of themselves.”
This couldn’t ring more true for Hannah, 15.
“It’s always awkward when someone tells you you’re funny,” she tells us.
“You never know how to respond – whether to say thank you, but then you sound cocky, and people then expect you to be funny 24/7 when it’s hard to be. When someone says, ‘You’re so funny’ I try to change the subject.”
But why is this the case? Psychologist Nathan Beehag adds, “Most teens have an established sense of identity (like who they are, what they’re good at and how people perceive them). When they are given a compliment that doesn’t match with their sense of identity, they can’t quite accept it.” So THAT’S why we’re prone to shutting down any applause – and not to mention fast. But seriously, owning a compliment isn’t all that bad…
Lap up the praise. It’s good for you! If you fall into the say-something-nice-to-me-and-I’ll-bolt category, you’re not an alien. Nope, not at all. According to Jo, you might just be slightly introverted.
“This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily shy,” she says. “It just means you don’t look to others to make you feel better about yourself. Introverts need to learn how to accept feedback and taking compliments is a perfect place to start.”
Nathan says that learning how to welcome a ‘well done’ every now and then could totally turn your world upside-down. For the better, we might add! “A genuine and sincere compliment can change someone’s life,” he tells DOLLY. “Everyone needs to receive compliments in order to feel good about themselves and to maintain their confidence and self-esteem.”
Is knocking back compliments such a terrible thing? Well, it’s pretty obvious the power of praise can make us feel happy. And while knocking back a couple of compliments here and there doesn’t SOUND like a big deal, it’s not exactly doing good stuff for our self-esteem, either.
Jo says, “Not being able to take a compliment will usually mean that your confidence won’t grow much.” But that’s not something to be ashamed of.
This is where the idea of learning to really accept a compliment comes in – for the times when your self-esteem takes a bit of a knock and you need to back yourself with some pre-earned love. As Jo explains, “Because we’re very self-critical, we need to learn to bank the compliments that we do receive and use them when our confidence is shaky.”
However, there’s something, or should we say, someONE you should think about when flicking the compliment right back to sender: the person who is in fact GIVING you the praise.
“Just think of a compliment as a gift that a friend is giving you,” Jo suggests. “If you reject the compliment, you’re rejecting the gift. Giving genuine thanks for a compliment makes the giver of that compliment feel good, so it should be a total win-win situation.”
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