Your cheeks start blushing, you are at a loss for words, and you avert your eyes. You have just been complimented by someone and, like most women, you are acting like a complete freak.
The whole “women can’t take a compliment” thing is a stereotype except, and I hate to say this, I really think it is a true one. After extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that these three things usually happen when a woman is complimented.
1. She blushes, cocks her head, loses the ability to speak, shakes her head, and looks down
According to social psychologist Laura Brannon, who has studied the interaction between compliments and mood, women with high self-esteem may tend to reject compliments because they want to be seen as modest and self-effacing.
2. She will take a compliment but put it down like the thing she did was absolutely nothing at all
If she just assembled a space rocket, she says a child could have done it. Comedian Amy Schumer did an amazing skit on this very habit. It goes a bit far, but you get the point:
3. She immediately compliments the person who gave her a compliment to get the attention off of her
Psychologist Susan Quilliam told The Daily Mail, “Most women’s knee-jerk reaction to a compliment is to think that the other person is just being nice, or feeling sorry for them. The second reaction is: ‘What do they want?’ Most women are suspicious because we find it hard to believe nice things people say to us. It’s a self-esteem thing.”
You will notice that none of the options included saying thank you. Ladies, what is the deal? We here at Levo are constantly trying to remind you (and ourselves) to boast about your achievements. I am not saying you should walk in a room and expect applause (though that would be nice!), but learning to take a compliment when you have done something well would be a good first step.
Women tend to favor self-deprecation over self-assertion. It’s easier and can be used as a tool to make others more comfortable, but this can become detrimental. Emma Gray of The Huffington Post wrote after the Schumer video came out:
These sorts of comments reinforce a pattern of continuous lady self-loathing. When being unable to accept praise is the norm, it makes it more difficult for us to take pride in what we do or what we look like. And frankly, when I compliment a friend or acquaintance, I genuinely mean whatever I say—I don’t want her to brush it off and insult herself as a result. Instead of downplaying our accomplishments, intellect, and looks, women should be celebrating those things that make us exceptional. Owning your awesomeness doesn’t make you obnoxious or arrogant. It makes you confident.
I get absolutely high off of compliments, yet I totally make an excuse as to why I get them. Someone compliments my outfit? Well, I just copied some celebrity. Someone says I wrote an article well? That was just luck. Someone compliments my hair? I say “Well, I actually brushed it today for a change.” Why has this automatic put-down reaction become the norm?
Instead of reacting in one of the three ways described above, try something different. When someone gives you a compliment just say, “Thank you.” And then try not speaking for the next two minutes. You can think that earning your degree from Harvard really wasn’t that tough, but do not say it. Then, maybe, this will eventually become the norm. Whether or not it does, it is an experiment worth trying.
Do you have any tips on how to gracefully take a compliment? Share them with us in the comments section below!
Plus, ask award-winning journalist and Levo mentor Soeldad O’Brien for her advice on taking a compliment!