When you get a compliment from someone, do you say thank you? Or do you argue with the compliment? I don’t mean that you actually have a fight about it, I mean do you accept the compliment or try to brush it off or just return another compliment so you don’t have to take ownership of the praise you were given?
When you brush away compliments, it’s called discounting. It means that you are not accepting the compliment and you are discounting yourself like you were in a bargain bin at the local thrift store. There are certain cultures that are really good at discounting. Try and give someone from England, Australia, or New Zealand a compliment and they will most likely turn it around or tell you, “it’s nothing.”
It happened one night when my husband and I were having a dinner party for a couple of chefs he just brought in from the UK to set up a new restaurant chain. They had been to the site where the new restaurant was and commented on the great flow of traffic. “It’s an excellent location,” they both agreed. And so did I, so I turned to my husband and said, “Well done! You’ve picked the right place for the 1st restaurant.” His reply to me almost knocked me off my chair. He said, “What? I didn’t do anything.”
He didn’t do anything? Nothing at all? He had been single-handedly managing the whole opening of this restaurant until these two chefs had arrived. He explored all the sites, chose a location, negotiated the terms and worked out the financing. And now he is sitting in front of me saying, he didn’t do anything. He’s from New Zealand. Apparently 9 solid months of work on a single project while managing 10 other restaurants wasn’t “doing anything”. I would love to see it when he actually did do something!
This is a perfect example of how people just brush away compliments. And what’s worse is the affect it has on the person who gave the compliment in the first place.
- It makes the person giving the compliment feel stupid
- It makes the person giving the compliment second guess themselves which causes them to question giving a compliment to that person (or to anyone else) again
- It makes the person giving the compliment frustrated that they were trying to be nice and all they get is grief in return
This week’s happiness challenge is to accept compliments. Accept compliments that you are given without feeling the need to compliment back. If someone says, “Nice shoes!” don’t automatically say, “Thank you, nice tie.” Just say thank you. It’s really simple. “Thank you” is all you need. Oh, and if a little happiness and a little self-confidence wells up inside, that’s okay too!
To your improving happiness,