Boost your confidence and relationships by accepting compliments

"You look lovely in that hat!" "What? This old thing?" It seems a lot of us have trouble accepting compliments.


Why do people find it hard to accept compliments?

There are several reasons why you might find it hard to accept compliments. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. You suffer with low self-esteem

This then means you may find it hard to believe the compliments you receive, perceiving them instead as insincere or exaggerated. You are more used to focusing on your perceived flaws and limitations.

2. Fear of appearing arrogant

You don’t want to appear arrogant or conceited by accepting a compliment. This could be particularly true if you’ve been brought up to believe that humility involves downplaying your achievements or qualities.

3. Difficulty trusting others

If you have a history of unhealthy relationships, you might find it hard to trust the intentions of others. You might see compliments as manipulative or as a setup for future disappointment or hurt.

4. Past criticism

If you have been heavily criticized or belittled in the past, you might be more inclined to believe negative feedback than positive. Compliments might feel foreign or uncomfortable in comparison.

If you have trouble accepting compliments, welcome to the club! I used to find them impossible. I would ignore them or bat them away because they felt so foreign to me. I was used to criticism and harshness. A compliment threatened to touch some soft, tender part of me that was hiding behind a wall.

Nowadays I can accept compliments. And that hasn’t happened overnight. Below I set out how you too can do this. But first…

Why absorbing compliments is a good idea

Most people, when they vocalise a compliment, mean what they say. It’s a gift. When you ignore it, dismiss it or don’t believe it, you are turning down that gift. And that seems like such a waste.

But here’s the big secret: being able to absorb compliments is one of the key ingredients in building your self-confidence. Yep.

And that’s because a compliment arises out of someone’s experience either of you or with you. They are holding up a mirror and saying 'this is how I experience you.’

Imagine for a moment that you believed them. Your image of yourself would have to change. For the better.

There’s an expansion that comes with that, an opening of the heart. And sometimes it feels too scary and painful to open up like that. I get it.

But just imagine who you could become if you absorbed all those compliments.

And accepting compliments will improve your relationships, too.

You foster a positive communication dynamic by showing that you value positive feedback. You build trust this way, too. By accepting compliments, you strengthen the bond between you by acknowledging and reciprocating those feelings.

And as you build self-confidence through an improved self-image, this will lead to healthier and more balanced relationships.

Where to start with accepting compliments

If you are not used to accepting compliments, remember it is like any skill, you can learn it and it takes practice!

Firstly, the next time someone offers you a compliment, all you need to say is "Thank you". Don’t be tempted to dismiss or downplay it or to gloss over it by immediately giving a compliment back. You don’t want to minimise the impact that this wonderful gift of a compliment can have on you.

Secondly, take the compliment at face value. If you struggle to believe a compliment is genuine, assume that it is and give people the benefit of the doubt.

Then let it land. Let yourself feel that compliment. Notice what the difference is when you let it land, as opposed to not.

If you find that you can’t do it in that moment, come back to it later. Write it down, read it out loud and let it land. Let the good in.

Practise self-compassion. Remember that everyone has positive qualities and that you do too! If you struggle with self-esteem and self-image, you might find it helpful to work with a coach or therapist to build your self-concept.

Absorbing compliments can feel uncomfortable when you aren’t used to it, but you can practise and you will find that doing so will improve both your confidence and your relationships.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Guildford, Surrey, GU1
Written by Helen Snape, Relationship Coach
Guildford, Surrey, GU1

Helen is an award-winning Confidence and Relationships Coach who helps agreeable women get their needs met in relationships by building boundaries, confidence and effective communication skills.

Helen has been coaching for over 10 years, has a degree in Psychology and is qualified in mindfulness and trauma.

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Confidence

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals