Taking a compliment

"No, I don't! Stop saying that!!"

I recently spent a glorious Saturday on a friend’s boat. Sunshine, champagne, music and fun. There were six of us – three couples – and the ladies were all sunning ourselves on the back end. Except for the fact that we were purposefully exposing our largest organs to the aging, cancerous rays of the sun, all was right with the world.

One of the girls, a beautiful blonde, glanced at my legs and paid me the following compliment: “Wow, you have such great legs! There are no little veins or bruises or anything.”

And here is how I responded: “Oh my God, are you kidding me?! My legs are covered with spider veins! I’ve tried having them removed but it never works. Here, look. (Point out clump of veins #1 on right calf.) And here! (Point out clump of veins #2 on left inner ankle.) And here and here and here! (Assorted thigh splotches.)”

How obnoxious can a person possibly be? I know we’re all guilty of responding to a compliment on our dress with, “I got it for $8 at Forever 21!” or responding to a positive comment on our hair with, “Ugh, I haven’t showered in two days!” But this was over the top. It was almost as if I had to immediately prove her wrong or else suffer the consequences. Which would be…what exactly? Feeling good about my legs? And how did my response make the other woman feel? Stupid? Embarrassed? Self-conscious?

When’s the last time you accepted a compliment in a gracious, mature way? Have you ever felt compelled to swiftly disprove the compliment-payer? Don’t you dare leave a comment telling me I’m a good writer or I might have to whip out my inner Defense Attorney on you.

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16 Responses to Taking a compliment

  1. Jill says:

    I am not one of those to pimp my own blog, but I wrote a post about accepting compliments a couple of years ago and I still stand by it today. Here it is if you want to read it: http://thesassypear.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/accept-it-agree-with-it-and-own-it/

    I wonder why it’s so easy for us to accept our flaws, but not our strengths?
    Jill recently posted..Labels and False Beliefs

  2. Please, Jill, pimp away – it’s a great blog with solid tips! And yes, that was a compliment that you must now accept and own ;-)
    Leslie Goldman recently posted..Taking a compliment

  3. Emily says:

    I consciously force myself to accept a compliment. Especially with guys… mostly because they think women are crazy for not being able to accept compliments. I’ve read this and heard it firsthand from several guy friends. They just don’t understand it, which makes sense. Why can’t we just accept a compliment and leave it as is?

  4. JavaChick says:

    I’m really bad at accepting compliments. Except when someone comments on my fabulous shoes. I get really enthusiastic about shoes. Just recently managed to finally get together with a very good friend – we’d been trying and trying to meet up only to have things not work out. She says to me “you look good” and I immediately respond with “I look fat.” Then I mentally kicked myself. I don’t know how to turn of that reflex.
    JavaChick recently posted..Not the post I planned to write…

  5. Leslie says:

    Java – that post just made me snicker out loud. It sounds so silly when you read it – but it’s TOTALLY something I would do/say!
    Leslie recently posted..Taking a compliment

  6. charlotte says:

    This is something I really struggle with too. Just saying “thank you” with a smile feels… incomplete. So I’ve changed to returning the compliment. Which can feel a little awkward sometimes too. I haven’t found the perfect solution yet. Can you work on that for me?? ;)
    charlotte recently posted..My First Workout Memory [Champion Giveaway!!]

  7. Amanda says:

    I have no problem just saying “thanks!” – as long as I actually feel excited about what the compliment is about. If I don’t, I just kind of stutter and silently think that my complimenter must have really bad judgment. Ugh.
    Amanda recently posted..A boy and a girl in a little canoe…

  8. bdaiss says:

    I’ve been working hard at getting better at this. AND at giving compliments. I have some days that are better than others, but I’m getting there. The trouble is actually taking the compliments to heart, not just blowing them off. I figure if someone took the time to actually say something, they must mean it and therefore I should believe them and not my deluded self.
    bdaiss recently posted..I’m Burnin’ Baby! Burnin’!

  9. Flute Lady says:

    It’s comforting to know that there are so many other awesome women out there who still have trouble accepting a compliment! I can track my inability back to countless examples from my mother, whose knee-jerk reaction to even the sincerest and most indisputable compliment was usually “Oh, you’re just SAYING that.” It’s as if her self-esteem was so low that she couldn’t possibly believe that anyone would like her dress, or her cooking, or whatever it was. From this, we picked up the notion that accepting a compliment was tantamount to “tooting our own horn,” which was a cardinal sin. It’s a good thing that the various jobs she had over the years came to her by connections and word-of-mouth, because I can’t imagine her being able to produce a resume, which by definition requires “tooting your own horn.”

  10. mosa says:

    Lately I have been stopping myself (when I am fast enough) in the middle of my compliment refutation, taking a deep breath, and just saying, “Thank you.” Next step: working on actually believing it!
    No, I won’t say how good your post was, but (hopefully) you and I both know that it’s wonderful. Thanks! :-)

  11. Tonette mcCloud says:

    I am average hear me roar!

  12. I always start by saying thanks, then go on to explain why the compliment is, in my opinion misplaced. I have written about this subject a few times, on Open Salon last summer after an afternoon at a pool watching the way the men and the women acted (Not a SixPack in Sight http://ht.ly/6s6ft. I also addressed the subject of women’s inner critic in Cute Still Counts, a collection of essays on getting older. But even still, I admittedly cannot always keep myself from doing exactly what I say we shouldn’t.

  13. Edna says:

    I was voted “cutest girl” in my high school class. Now that I am a bonafide grownup, whenever I am out and about, someone comments on my looks.
    Although I have heard these comments all my life, my expression says, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Starting today, I am going to let my smile be my expression when I say “thank you.”

  14. Pingback: Why You Can’t Take a Compliment — and 20 Great Reasons to Start « SuccessClip

  15. Pingback: Why can’t women just say “thank you”? | K I Wright

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