Tug of War: Why and How to Accept a Compliment from Other Women

Your mouth is watering. You can see it in her eyes by the way she’s looking at you. She motions her lips to say it and you’re trying to figure out how you can miraculously faint to distract or stop her. Then she does the inevitable, she compliments you!!! The infamous question next is; now what do you do?

As women, we’ve all been there before, are still there or are completely clueless to this scenario. I high key believe in being transparent, so I’ll speak for myself, I’m playing tag with been there before AND still there at times! Why do we women have such a hard time accepting a compliment from another woman? I’m not talking about the rehearsed, fake or reverse psychology replies, I’m speaking about genuinely and completely accepting a compliment. Let’s discuss three reasons why it’s so hard for most women to accept one. I promise not to leave you hanging with the reasons why it’s so hard, but I’ll be sure to offer a new take on how to genuinely accept a compliment the next time a sister from another mother gives you one.

Reasons Why It’s Hard to Accept a Compliment

  1. Learned Behavior: It’s listed first because many women fall into this category. You’ve heard the expression before “monkey see monkey do.” This means learning a behavior by watching it being done, then copying it without fully understanding the how’s or why’s. Most women have experienced this early on in life usually as a child NOT seeing or being taught how to accept a compliment from another woman. I remember just recently having this conversation with my grandmother and a few other ladies and it was interesting to hear my grandmother say in her days of growing up you didn’t see this much. If you did, you would pay a compliment back to the woman or quickly say thank then move on to something else in the conversation. This can set the tone for the same behavior being mimicked and passed down from generation to generation. Which in turn can lead to a deeper underlying issue we’ll touch on next.
  2. Low Self Esteem: This one might be touchy as some women aren’t readily open to admit if they suffer from this. Low self-esteem can be defined as having a lack of confidence in oneself, feelings of being unloved, incompetent and unworthy. Paying a compliment to a woman who may be battling this usually signals her to doubt your sincerity or cause her to feel embarrassed as she doesn’t view herself worthy of receiving compliments.
  3. Mixed Messages: A better word for this would be contradictions!! We’re living in a society that measures our behaviors as women by what’s acceptable and desirable by placing the word “but” in the equation. Some examples would be: “love yourself but not too much, be confident but not overconfident, be yourself but tone it down accordingly.” Of course, in all honesty, a measure of balance is necessary but on the other hand who makes the rules?!! It’s safe to say most men aren’t measured by these rules. So, as women, focusing on uplifting ourselves and each other, why are we holding ourselves to these contradictions with a fine-toothed comb?

Now that we’ve gotten an idea of where this madness may stem from, let’s explore a new way of looking at how to genuinely accept a compliment from a woman. The Director of Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, James  O. Pawelski and his wife, Wellness Consultant, Pileggi Pawelski’s book: Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love that Last offers a method using three words (accept, amplify, advance) to help us as women better accept compliments when given.

3 Words to Help You Accept a Compliment

  1. Accept: As bad as I want to say duh, I can’t do so, as this is easier said than done. Try taking a moment to pause and hear the compliment being given to you. Allow it to sink in how worthy you are for this woman to take time to speak about it at that very moment. Give yourself permission to silence the inner voices that talk negatively to you.
  2. Amplify: Celebrate you!!! Yes, make this a big thang!! Do your two-step or whatever the name of that dance is that you do when it hits you! It doesn’t take a genius to recognize we’re living in a world that seems to be moving at the speed of lightening BUT somehow and someway this woman made time stand still to acknowledge you. Don’t blow that off, even if it feels uncomfortable, bask for a moment in that light shining bright just for you!
  3. Advance: Keep it going! Learn to advance in that conversation as you continue to discover more about yourself. Observation is a magnificent teacher, listen to her to know what about you made her say that. This part will blow your mind when you find out how another woman positively admires you or something about you. A compliment can be the “hello” to wanting to connect with you, so open that door for her!

Like this post? View similar content here: 4 Ways to Empower Women on International Women’s Day

by NikkiG

Hi guys! I'm Nikki, a ghostwriter in Winston Salem, NC. I've been ghostwriting as a side hustle for 10 years with dusty NDA (non-disclosure agreements) on file and just in 2018 went full time and opened my professional writing business. Yay me! I specialize in teaching influencers, musicians and authors how to embrace vulnerability, release the uncomfortable part of their story and set themselves free by writing a memoir book in 90 days!

Most of my days are split being a high key introvert and others being an ambivert depending on my surroundings! I'm mom to a beautiful 2020 high school graduate who's a working girl and loves to pick millennial/generation X debates with me. It's actually kinda interesting and cool we can go at it for hours! I absolutely LOVE researching topics, reading books and committing myself to learn something new every chance I get. One of my favorite quotes of all times is: "what's obvious to you is amazing to others." It takes on a new meaning to me everyday as a ghostwriter!


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