Yesterday, I had to take a leaf out of my own book. For weeks, months, even years, I've been encouraging my lovely clients up take compliments graciously, instead of instinctively fighting them. This topic keeps on coming up and yes, I know I only posted about it last month, here. We are conditioned to this default setting where it's somehow better to escape a compliment than to appreciate it. Let me give you an example.
'I love those jeans'
'Oh these are old and they don't really even fit that well'.
You may as well have said, 'What these? I found them in a ditch covered in horse shit and full of holes. Once I bleached them and had them deloused, they were just about wearable'.
Standard compliment protocol as I advise it: say thank you. Feel good. You deserve it. Compliments are either your friends, or your enemies. You get to choose which.
Yesterday, I jumped in an Uber for a 16 minute journey. Threw all my stuff in the back and said hi to the driver and then proceeded to have The Best Taxi Conversation EVER. Even with a vague language barrier, we smashed the fun times on the drive. I wanted to climb in the front and tell him to fuck off work for a beer. Just as we reached our destination, he said, 'I'm not good with English [blatantly better than my German], but I have to tell you how you are amazing'.
If I'd been drinking a coffee, he'd now have Arabica upholstery. I did this weird chokey laugh thing, and he used the opportunity to continue -
'You are so real, like I do not see so much. You have something very special'.
At first, I still had the awkward reflex. Mine is humour, to deflect. I wanted to say, 'It's ok, Adem, chill! I'll give you 5 stars!', but to do that would have cheapened his kindness. I thanked him, and I giggled a little bit, and a few minutes later we parted company.
Now, I reflect on what he said and I'm so deeply flattered that I'm really glad I didn't try to shake it off. I've thought about it, outside the boundaries of the embarrassment of surprise and close proximity, and I feel like I own those words for myself now. I wouldn't have that if I'd been dismissive. What an awesome thing to hear about yourself, right? I'm still buzzing.
When you dismiss a compliment, you are fundamentally undermining your own self esteem. Why do that to yourself? It's so important to reaffirm positive thoughts, particularly if you're predisposed to going the other way. If you constantly dismiss positivity coming towards you, you're missing out on the opportunity to reaffirm your own (albeit maybe fledgling) positive internal dialogue. I'm not saying that you should derive self esteem from external sources - DEAR GOD NO - but rather not to dismiss external reinforcement as false, manipulative, or agenda-driven.
The lesson here is, as it was before - trust that a flattering comment is well-meant. You totes deserved it 😘