Imagine this: you buy a lovely gift and take time to wrap it up beautifully. When you give it to the recipient, they throw it back into your face. Doesn't feel very nice, does it? Makes you think that next time, you won't bother.
That is also how it can feel when you try to give someone a compliment, some generous words about an accomplishment, an attitude, a piece of work, and they say, "oh, it was nothing", "really? I thought I botched it", "oh, you did all the work", or they go into a long winded, highly detailed explanation of all the difficulties they had to go through, whilst our genuine smile fixes into a rictus.
Or how it can feel when you say the same things to someone who is trying to compliment you.
Many of us are terrible at taking compliments, especially the British! We bluster, self deprecate and either genuinely hate receiving praise, or think we should at least pretend to hate it otherwise we will look arrogant. So we run out stock phrases to bat away the awkwardness and embarrassment, but we do a great disservice to the giver. We insult them. By dissing their gift, we can be seen as questioning their intelligence or opinion. We sound insincere, lacking in self-esteem, or even worse, like we are trying to get further compliments ("oh, I thought I did a terrible job?", "No, no, it was great, honestly").
No-one needs to give you a compliment. It is a gift from them to you. And what do you say when someone gives you a gift? Smile and say, "Thank you." A neutral, polite, non-arrogant, non self-effacing, gracious, "Thank you".
You don't have to struggle with what to say and the giver goes away feeling happy. Win-win all round.
And as you learn how to accept compliments with good grace, you may even grow to accept your skills and virtues.
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