Sorry, what were you saying?
I used to be one of those women that don’t take compliments well. I’d try making my achievements look smaller or non-existent, find excuses or even quickly change the topic and compliment the other person in return. Until I realised I wasn’t doing myself a service and I certainly wasn’t making the other person feel good about complimenting me. Learning to accept compliments was a conscious choice for me and it can be your choice, too.
Why is it so hard to accept a compliment?
- For me it had a lot to do with upbringing. I was raised to believe that it was not modest or even acceptable to boast about your accomplishments and accepting a compliment seemed very much like boasting.
- Often we’d get compliments about things that come so naturally to us that we don’t even see them as compliment-worthy. In fact, these are our strengths. These same accomplishments that we think nothing of don’t necessarily come easily to other people.
- Not being able to accept a compliment can also be a sign of low self-esteem. We don’t feel that we can possibly deserve the compliment and the person giving it to us is either just trying to be nice or delusional.
Accepting a compliments is a good thing
- It’s polite. I always feel uneasy when someone is deflecting or arguing with a compliment I’ve given and I now realise that all the people I’ve done it to must have felt the same way. The person complimenting you is doing it because they’ve seen something in you that they value. The most polite thing you can do is to appreciate them for it.
- We learn about ourselves. By listening to compliments instead of dismissing them we are learning what it is that people find valuable in us and what we have to contribute.
- It’s good for our self-esteem. Every time you acknowledge that yes, you are what people say you are and yes, you have achieved something worthy, you’re affirming your positive qualities.
How to get started
Here’s a very simple practice. When someone compliments you, just say, “Thank you”. This is probably what you’d normally start your response with anyway, so this should be easy. Then stifle your urge to continue the sentence with “but…”. You can leave it at “thank you” or you can pause and think of something positive to say like “I put a lot of thought into it” or “I’m so thrilled that it went well”. You can also put the honours back to the person giving the compliment, but without changing the subject immediately, for example, “It means a lot coming from you” or “I really appreciate it”.
Think of all the times that you’ve given compliments. How do people’s responses make you feel? Model the ones that make you feel good and exclude the rest from your repertoire.
As anything else, accepting compliments gets easier with practice. Before long you’ll start feeling great about it and never feel awkward again.
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Ever gone on a dinner date with some hottie and been totally struck down with a bad case of nerves? Yep, you know what I’m talking about. That awkward silence. It’s just the two of you, face to face, with nothing to say. Rather than reaching for that extra glass of alcohol, here’s a few tips on how to start a conversation and get those nerves back in check.
Rather than talking about yourself, which can be a total turn off, particularly when it dominates the conversation; ask them some questions about themselves. For example, how they chose their career, what hobbies they might have and what interests them, if they are close with their family, do they have a particular place they like to go or any travel they’ve done or have planned. There’s always something you don’t know about a new love interest. Dinner dates give you both the perfect opportunity to get to know each other better.
The trick to reducing those date jitters is being able to start the conversation. Using open-ended questions is the key. These are the types of things you ask someone, which require more than a one or two word response. Close-ended questions can be a barrier to communicating, especially when you’re a bit nervous. Here’s a few of examples of both so you can appreciate the difference.
“I know you’ve been working at (wherever they work) for a while. Do you like working there?”
“ It’s a nice change to get dressed up and go somewhere different. Thanks for bringing me here. Have you been here before?”
“You said that you like the footy. Do you play or like to go and watch?”
“I know you’ve been working at (wherever they work) for a while. How did you end up working there?”
“It’s a nice change to get dressed up and go somewhere different. Thanks for bringing me here. What made you choose this place?”
“You said before that you like the footy, but I’m not sure if you play or like to go to games. I’d really like to hear more about that?
As you can see, the first set of questions can be answered with a single word response; while the second set opens the opportunity to begin a conversation. Listen to what your date has to say and you can build on the conversation, using more open-ended questions. This will keep the conversation flowing. Asking closed ended questions is okay once the conversation has begun.
There is an art to effective communication. Remember, if you are nervous, chances are your date is as well. Increasing your ability to communicate effectively will ease the nerves for you both and will result in an exceptionally enjoyable and successful date.
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When someone is really listening to us, we feel drawn to that person and willing to open our hearts. Listening is one of the most important skills we need to build meaningful relationship. But what does it mean to be a good listener?
We’ve all been taught to make eye contact, not interrupt and not get distracted by TV, phones or other gadgets (and half of the time we still forget). But it takes more than that. I invite you to dive deeper into your conversations and use the following qualities of a good listener.
Be present for the other person and listen to what they’re saying without judgement. Don’t try to guess what’s going to follow next, keep an open mind and allow the conversation to unfold.
Focus on the other person
We often process the conversation through our own stories. This may be how we relate to other people’s experiences, but it can be annoying when we always respond with ‘Me, too’ or ‘I have a better story’. If someone shares their achievements with you, acknowledge them and be happy for them (even if you have done better). If they’re expressing a concern, give them the space to voice it without immediately sharing a similar challenge that you may have had or advice they may not want to hear.
Another easy trap to fall into is thinking about what you’re going to say in response. I do this a lot. As an introvert, I need some time to think before I speak. I often panic that the other person will finish talking and I’ll have nothing to say, so I start composing my response in my head while they speak. But if that’s what you’re doing, you’re not truly focusing on them, but on yourself, and you may be missing out on important cues and information. With practice, I learned that there’s nothing wrong with pausing for a few seconds to think before responding. In fact, the person you’re talking to appreciates it a lot more.
Show that you care by having open body language and eye contact. Asking good question will send the message that not only you’ve heard and understood what has been said so far, but you’re willing to go deeper. And don’t change the subject!
No one is a perfect listener all the time, but we can all get better with practice. There will be times when you get distracted – gently bring yourself back to the conversation and admit that you’ve missed something, or acknowledge that this may not be the best time for you to have that conversation and schedule a different time. People will appreciate your honesty much more than a pretend smile and non-committal remarks.
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