Updated: Mar 31
How many times have you heard somebody when, after given a compliment, say “no, that’s not true”, or “not even”. They often reject the compliment trying to be humble, or because they do not believe the compliment, but in reality, they are being detrimental to themselves and the person giving the compliment. Saying “thank you” to a compliment though greatly increases our ability to love ourselves and others. Let me explain why with a case study.
I once knew a girl that was very impressive. She could sing beautifully, dance phenomenally, was physically attractive, and had excellent social skills. As far as I could tell, there was only one major flaw that she had. It was that she did not believe she was any of those things (though I am sure there were other things I did not know about). Frequently, when she would sing, she would immediately say “I sounded so bad”. She would likewise critique herself on everything she did, even including her cooking (which also was quite tasty). After spending a significant amount of time with her, I realized that she was not just saying those things to sound humble to others, she truly believed that she was not good at any of them.
Being an optimist, I thought that blasting her with sincere compliments would help her. I would compliment her singing and try to tell her about her talents when she would talk about how bad she was doing at life. Surprisingly to me, my sincere compliments did not work, and it turned out detrimental to our friendship because she would get frustrated with me for complimenting her.
In this case, my praise was not exaggerated. Others could see how good she was at these things; it was clear to us all. She viewed herself poorly and had negative views about her skills, but it did not matter who was right in this case because we generally tend to believe ourselves more than others. She was frustrated with me because I disagreed with her even though I was trying to help her see what the others around her saw.
I have often thought about what the difference would have been if she had said “thank you” whenever a person complimented her. She would not have argued with those giving compliments, which also might mean she would not be challenging herself about her ability as much. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I did everything right in this situation, as perhaps I should have paid more attention to what she really needed rather than pushing compliments repeatedly. We may not always be in a situation to immediately accept a sincere compliment.
When we reject compliments though, we tend to convince ourselves more that we are right about the negative things that we think about ourselves. When we say “thank you” to a compliment and leave it at that, we open up ourselves to seeing what others see, which can help us start to believe that we are not all that bad.
From my experience, both with myself and talking with others, people typically do not say “thank you” to a compliment because they are either trying to be humble or just don’t believe the compliment. Is this really humble though? By saying “no, that’s not true” to a compliment, we are telling the person praising us that we are right, and they are wrong. Is that not a prideful mindset to have? Why do we have to insist that we are right? Even if we don’t believe the compliment, how would it change our perspective to start to try and understand what the other person sees or feels?
So, by trying to be humble through rejecting compliments, we are in reality often being prideful and also strengthening your mindset of the negative aspects of ourselves. True humility is the ability to see truth, to recognize that we may be good at something without it causing us to have an inflated ego. In other words, humility is the ability to see ourselves, and others, as a combination of strengths and weaknesses, without us feeling better or worse than the others around us.
When we keep a proper mindset – that our skills and talents do not make us better than others – there is nothing prideful about saying “thank you” to a compliment. Saying “thank you” helps us show that we value the other person and their opinion. Even if the compliment is way exaggerated, saying “thank you” sends the message that we appreciate the other’s opinion and are grateful that they are choosing to say something positive about us.
Here’s a challenge. Have a gratitude week and say “thank you” to every person who says something nice about you and give them a big smile. Then do it again for another week. See the power that it will bring into your life. The power to love yourself will increase, and the power to help and inspire others by your positive attitude will also increase. This will greatly magnify your and their ability to change the world, for good.
We believe strongly in the power of kindness, love, and gratitude. When we incorporate these into our daily interactions with others, we are helping to change the world, for good. We would love to have you join us as we work to build good in the world, one person, one action at a time.