Accepting Compliments and Positive Feedback

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

If you’re usually passive, it’s likely you ignore, deny, refute, or question compliments that others give to you. Learning to accept compliments will allow you to feel better about yourself. Accepting a compliment graciously allow the person delivering the compliment to feel good.

Do you find it difficult to accept compliments?

One of these barriers may be preventing you from accepting such positive feedback:

• Low-self esteem. When a compliment is in conflict with your self-image, you might be confused about how to handle it. The other person might know something that you can’t see for yourself.

• A feeling of debt. You don’t owe anyone anything for giving you a compliment other than “thank you.”

• Fear of conceit. Do you feel conceited when accepting a compliment? Receiving a compliment is actually emotionally healthy. This one was very much my reason. I was raised to be humble, that we really don't excel in anything we just get by. I don't think that was ever the real intent but it was how I perceived what I was learning. So when people would give me compliments I just brushed them off. It wasn't until I was much older that I learned how to accept compliments and to even wear them. This works for both compliments and also criticism. If you need to own, do so and if you don't like that, then make changes.

• Need for reciprocation. Receiving a compliment doesn’t require that you give one, too. It also doesn’t mean you have to insult yourself to restore the balance of the universe.

Make an effort to receive positive feedback without feeling the need to provide anything in return. Allow others to say nice things about you or the things that you’ve done. You deserve it, so enjoy it.

Giving Positive Feedback

It’s important to be able to openly give compliments, too. If you can’t give positive feedback, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to give constructive criticism either. Others are thankful when you express your appreciation for something nice they said or did.

If you’re passive, you might believe that others don’t value your opinion. Why not let them decide if your opinion is relevant? Plus you don't know what anyone else is going through and you never know how much they might value what you say to them. Be sure they know the real you!

If you’re aggressive, you might feel like you’re giving the other person the upper hand if you say something nice to them.

Passive-aggressive? Your inclination is to get what you want by making others feel bad. Giving a compliment might be a challenge.

Consider the benefits of positive feedback:

• Giving and receiving compliments and support are one of the great benefits of being human. Why miss out on the good stuff? If you can give sincere compliments, you’ll be better able to receive them.

• You strengthen existing relationships and create new relationships. Providing positive feedback is an important part of healthy interactions and bonding.

• Giving compliments is an important teaching tool. Feedback is an important part of learning new skills.

There are many reasons to give positive feedback. It helps you, too. Others will have more positive feelings toward you. You’ll also be able to enjoy being assertive and making someone feel good about themselves.

There can be obstacles to giving compliments to others, however. It’s likely that at least one of the following applies to you.

Obstacles to providing positive feedback:

• You’re too focused on the negative to notice the positive. Perhaps you only notice the things that bother you. If that’s the case, you’re missing out on a lot of positives.

• Expecting too much. Do people have to be perfect before you’re willing to acknowledge it? Is that fair to either of you?

• Low self-esteem. Do you fear that giving a compliment widens the gap between you and the other pe