Guest Post: Can You Take a Compliment?

I don’t remember how or when I was introduced to Elissa of Dress With Courage.  Even though we have yet to meet in person, it seems like I’ve always known her.  From the first moment I visited her site her words spoke to me.  She is more than just a pretty face with great style – she is an advocate for healthy body image.  Self-confidence.  Strength.  Self-respect.   Her intelligence, honesty and passion come through in everything she posts and make her one of my must-reads.  The fact that she shares my love of Dirty Dancing and introduced me to Crack in a Box?  Bonus.

If you have not already checked out her blog you must.  Immediately.  I’ll wait.  But don’t forget to come back and read her guest post below, too!


Image via Looking Good Blog

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve garnered a few compliments. This is unusual. I know I’m no great beauty; I don’t consider myself special or extraordinary; I don’t believe I have any remarkable talents. Most of the time, I’m a clumsy oaf with the odd habit of careening into furniture, spilling things on myself, and crying inappropriately, often in public. I can’t draw. I’m no intellectual. I watch grotesque amounts of reality television. And I’m the girl who has absentmindedly put her metal travel coffee cup into the microwave, destroying both in the process. So when I receive a compliment I feel dumbfounded. I shrink and blush. I become sheepish and bewildered and tongue-tied and truly have no clue what to say.

I was speaking with a friend on this very topic the other day, and I began to wonder why it is so difficult for so many women to accept a compliment. A while back, I bumped into a very old acquaintance in a Starbucks. I hadn’t seen her in a while, and I thought she looked fantastic – so I told her so. It was a simple compliment designed to make her feel good. It didn’t seem to.

“Oh no, I’m mess,” she sighed, blushing slightly. “These jeans are so old. And they don’t fit well. Maybe when I finally get on that diet…” She looked despairingly at her belly and patted it, perhaps to see if it jiggled.

From a young age, women are taught not to blow our own horn or promote ourselves in any way. We are supposed to appear humble, and demurely accept praise with a hint of humility and a side of self-depreciation. The message is that, by accepting the compliment, we will appear arrogant and narcissistic. It is unladylike to gloat, to brag, or to self-promote.

Psychologist Susan Quilliam says: “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.” We simply do not believe that the compliment is sincere. Some of us have self-destructive demons that tell us we’re not worthy enough, smart enough, or attractive enough to be deserving of positive attention.

Furthermore, many women believe that compliments are suspicious. We find it hard to believe the nice things people say to us. It seems more likely that the person giving the compliment wants something, rather than being sincere. We become cynical and mistrustful. Hodson agrees: “Women are very self-critical, especially when it comes to their bodies. They are waiting for the day they’re a ‘perfect ten’; only then will they be worthy of compliments.”

So how can we undo what years of habitual practice has made almost unconscious? Here are some pointers to help get you in the right mind-set to embrace the compliments you’re paid.

  • Own your accomplishments: It wasn’t luck that you managed to do something praiseworthy – it was your own effort and commitment. Even if you truly were just in the right place at the right time, you deserve credit for recognizing an opportunity and acting on it.
  • Be gracious: Giving a compliment isn’t always easy. Being gracious and appreciative when receiving one lets someone know that you are grateful for their kind words.
  • Practice with people you trust: Make an effort to share accomplishments with close friends and family in a self-confident way. If you do really well on something, admit it. The people who care about you won’t think I’m an arrogant narcissist, and their trust will help you accept compliments.
  • Just say thanks: An enthusiastic “Thank you!” needs no additional quantifiers.

B, thank you for giving me the opportunity to guest post. Your beautiful spirit, intelligence, and gentle, supportive nature inspires me to rise up. And those are compliments to brag about.


Many, many thanks to YOU Elissa.  I could say exactly the same about you!

What about you, dear readers, can you take a compliment?

If you haven’t already done so, check out Elissa’s blog here: Dress With Courage
and follow her via Bloglovin’ here and twitter here.

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  • birthday quotes for friends November 19, 2014, 12:59 PM

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  • Jamillah October 5, 2011, 11:44 PM

    Oh this is such a relevant topic for me and pretty much every woman I know. I love how Elissa approached it as well, gawsh her writing is so spectacular and this is no exception. Thanks B for sharing this gem of a blogger.

  • FASHION TALES October 3, 2011, 3:53 PM

    & well done Elissa! -xo 🙂

  • FASHION TALES October 3, 2011, 3:51 PM

    Love you B, for posting this! How true this is, I often find myself having a difficult time accepting compliments, sometimes I ponder,”Is this person serious or is this a joke?” I thank them anyway. But, I also think that we need to learn that nice words, and someone complimenting us is okay, and we ARE worthy of deserving it. I think in some ways it’s a good routine also to try to compliment others genuinely… as a whole I feel we tend to be so quick to judge and chime in on negativity, why not put that same energy in positive and genuine compliments.

  • Courtney October 3, 2011, 7:07 AM

    I found this so profound. Why is it that we are so comfortable dragging ourselves down? I wrote a post about negative thinking a while ago, I’ll be it, not as clear and concise as this, but it was mainly to address the issue of my thinking patterns: when I start feeling amazing, I immediately start throwing every negative counter against the confidence in my head. I find it so easy to believe that I’ll fail at things as opposed to believing I can do something–and when I finally do believe, I have a list of excuses or reasons why I’ll fail ready to combat every good thing. But here’s the thing… we don’t have to believe those voices in our heads. We can write new ones–ones that say I’m great and worthy and simply say thank you if someone notices me. It’s really a freeing experience realizing that.

    I Can Be Many Things

  • WendyB October 2, 2011, 12:22 PM

    Yeah, “thank you” always works!

  • lindsay October 1, 2011, 9:27 PM

    One of the best exercises I did as a part of a women-only Fellowship was accepting compliments. We wrote out compliments for all of the other fellows and one by one, everyone in the room complimented one of us and the only thing that person could say was “thank you.” It was prefaced with this concept that society teaches women to be sheepish or unaccepting or feel unworthy of compliments and often explain away the compliment, like your friend. To sit there and say thank you as the limits of accepting the compliment seemed awkward at first, but the exercise has changed the way I accept compliments and try to simply follow it up with a “thank you.” Nothing more, nothing to explain away or minimize my contribution to the source of the compliment, just to accept it.

  • Heather Fonseca October 1, 2011, 7:55 PM

    Compliments are sort of a funny thing. They make me somewhat uncomfortable too! Thank you for this thought provoking post!


  • Jenmarie October 1, 2011, 11:45 AM

    Beautiful post and so true! We all could definitely do better at complimenting one another and accepting them.

  • Sam @ My Growing Obsessions September 30, 2011, 10:21 PM

    The accuracy of this post caught me way off guard. I realized something kind of profound about myself, and I had to write a post about it. I linked back to this post and to Dress With Courage, and to Already Pretty where I found this lovely post. Take a look if you’re interested to see how my realization managed to slap me in the face!

  • Kimberlee September 30, 2011, 9:38 PM

    I love Elissa’s writing… she’s my blogging idol 🙂

  • Elle September 30, 2011, 9:35 PM

    Elissa and I must be on the same wavelength because I wrote my most recent post and posted it just before reading this. It’s sad but true and I hate to say it but I’ve done similarly to her friend before!

  • Cathy Benavides September 30, 2011, 5:45 PM

    I think every woman could benefit from reading this. I love complimenting women – on their shoes, their outfits, a funny a joke, a great talent, whatever they do well. But when someone compliments me, I can never just say thank you. I always try to qualify it with something like “you are so sweet to think that” insinuating that they couldn’t possibly be right. This post reminds me that I need to start taking compliments in the spirit which they are given – kindness.

  • Bella Q September 30, 2011, 4:34 PM

    Fantastic post- and so many good points made. While I was reading I was thinking that I am GOOD at taking compliments- however recently I did get all flustered and emotional when a certain somebody complimented me on my attractiveness. I felt unworthy, that it was a mean joke. So I guess we are so of discouraged to think YEAH I DESERVE THIS, but yeah we deserve this. Nice words. Directed at US.

  • Katy September 30, 2011, 2:19 PM

    Loved this post! It’s so true that we often can’t take a compliment or back it up with some down putting comment of our own. Compliments should be relished in and should make us smile. – Katy

  • dhamma-thrift September 30, 2011, 1:14 PM

    Girlfriend, I think you’re cute as a button and so smart and above all else just flat out clever. Just sayin. I somewhere along the road learned how to take a compliment. Its super easy, say thank you and keep your insecurities to yourself. The way I see it. When you say something negative its tantamount to calling that person a liar. Not cool

  • September 30, 2011, 11:17 AM

    I just love Elissa, not only is she all of the things you said in your intro but she’s hilarious too. Her tweets make me lol!

  • No Guilt Fashion September 30, 2011, 11:14 AM

    This was a fabulous post from Elissa. Thanks for sharing it with us B.

  • Tanvi September 30, 2011, 8:53 AM

    Great Post! 🙂

    I’d like to believe I ‘CAN’ take a compliment as long as I believe it is true … when it is not true, I try and gauge the situation … when it is not worth giving-in my two cent, I retract and instead give my ‘best’ smile and say Thank You! 🙂

    ♡ from ©

  • fuyume September 30, 2011, 2:12 AM

    Great Post! I’m so guilty of not accepting compliments. I go bright red, look at the ground and generally look awkward. I must learn to just say thankyou.

  • THE-LOUDMOUTH September 30, 2011, 12:09 AM

    This is a great post and so true! When I was younger I wasn’t quite sure how to take a compliment, mainly because I was teased for years and I couldn’t believe that anyone could think I was pretty, intelligent, whatever. After awhile, I started to believe these things about myself, and I was able to say a simply ‘thank you!’ when complimented. And now, whether or not I believe what a person says, I thank them with a smile. I hate when I compliment someone and they deny it’s true; why would I want to do that to someone else? 🙂