How To Be Better At Accepting Compliments

Sometimes it's awkward!

Receiving compliments, as well as giving them, can have a positive impact on mental health.

Being able to accept a compliment at face value can improve confidence and self-worth, and a positive response from the recipient can make the giver feel better too.

But not everyone is good at taking a compliment!

Sometimes, complements make people cringe because, for some, it’s a self-esteem issue.  People may struggle to receive a compliment as it conflicts with their own image of themselves…

FUN FACT, self-image is formed by the age of seven.

Growing up with a lack of praise and positive reinforcement means we don’t know how to respond to it.

So when someone compliments you, you may have a suspicion that the person doesn’t really mean what they say.

Sometimes accepting a compliment is difficult because you grew up with humility values, and social anxiety can also cause us not to accept compliments.

Compliments are often caught off guard so it’s easy to become tongue-tied as we just don’t know the right thing to say.

The more you do this, the more you’re reinforcing negative beliefs about yourself and not absorbing the positive.

Is difficulty accepting compliments a female trait?

It seems women are often worse at receiving compliments than men. A study found that almost half of women overall, and seven in 10 younger women, find compliments embarrassing, while two-thirds of men enjoyed receiving them.


Take a Moment:  Try not to respond automatically.  Take a breath before you speak so you don’t just say something stupid.

Just say thank you

All that’s really needed is a genuine thank you and a smile, although this may feel uncomfortable at first.

‘Take the compliment at face value, and remind yourself it’s not arrogant to accept it.

Avoid compliment ping pong: Most of us can tell an inauthentic compliment from a genuine one. ‘It’s fine if you have a real compliment to give back, but if you haven’t really got anything to say, just leave it.’

Reflect on it

Spend some time thinking about how the compliment made you feel. This can give you more insight into why you react in a negative way.

It’s also important to savour the positive feelings that come from it as this helps these come to the fore. Write it in your gratitude journal, if you have one.

Give as well as receive

Research suggests we often underestimate the positive effects complimenting someone can have. Expressing what’s inside of us is always good for our mental health, so remark on something you like or behaviour you admire.