Let me tell you a story.
About six years ago, when I was heading up the consumer affairs peak body, an astute Board member took me aside to give me feedback after a meeting.
Feedback is right up there with complaints in my mind. While complaints professionals might go round espousing that "the complaint is a gift" and handing out stickers that say "I ♥ complaints" - they're likely few and far between. I've not met that many people who truly ♥ feedback or complaints. I fit in the second category in case you were wondering.
So there I was, exhausted after preparing and hosting a full day meeting interstate, and heading off to get some feedback.
Here's what he said -
"Amanda, when the Board pays you a compliment, we really need to you to accept it - no matter what else is going on for you. When you brush off the compliment it does two things for us -
- Makes us think you don't respect or value our opinion, and
- Makes us begin to doubt that you did a good job in the first place.
This habit is really undermining your own credibility. I highly recommend you address it. Fast."
Wow! And there I thought I was being gracious, humble and making sure that the whole team were acknowledged appropriately!!
And here I was undermining my own credibility!! I had no idea. Go figure! (And thanks Andrew. This truly was one of the biggest gifts you could have given me.)
What's worse is that when you regularly reject compliments from others, you are doing something far more detrimental to yourself.
You are feeding the itty bitty pity committee that sits on your shoulder and keeps you downplaying, underestimating and second guessing, resulting in you not putting your hand up for those bigger, better and bolder opportunities as they arise. You are telling yourself that you truly aren't that great even in the face of external evidence.
The narrative you tell yourself about your capability, your experience and your expertise, is equally as important, if not more, as the narrative you convey to others.
Time to address this now.
Navigating the feminine stereotype
The feminine stereotype is supposed to blush, be modest and deflect the compliment. According to research, when women don't accept graciously, others judge negatively. And it's fear of this social stereotype judgment that keeps us playing small.
So a better way to accept a compliment is to simply say "thank you". Nothing more, or less, despite additional words bubbling up and you wanting to speak further.
"Thank you" will suffice.