Do you participate in Compliment Shutdown?

Lob: “I love your dress!”

Shutdown: “Oh, it’s got a hole in the seam and it only cost 12 bucks.  It’s really a piece of garbage.”

Lob: “Your hair looks great!”

Shutdown: “Gosh I haven’t washed it in days.  It’s such a mess I don’t know what to do with it.”

Lob: “Your presentation to the board was amazing.”

Shutdown: “Really? I flubbed on every other word and I looked like such an idiot.”

KLGHoda Today 83111 Compliment Shutdown: Why Cant a Woman Take a Compliment?We’ve all heard the dialogue before.  Perhaps we have even participated in it.  Compliment wars.  This is when someone gives us a compliment and we shoot it down, claiming that it’s not true, that really quite the opposite is apparent, and reveal our perceived weaknesses and unseemly unworthiness.

Today I appeared with Kathie Lee, Hoda, and Leslie Goldman on The Today Show to talk about why women and girls have such a hard time taking compliments.

What’s going on here?

When I speak to audiences of women and girls (and this is also explained in my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat) I talk about 2 main reasons that women and girls have trouble taking compliments.  First, many of us have this body bully inside that tell us we’re not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough, and not worthy of the compliment- and the perfect standard and media messages only help us to feed into this behavior.

Second, even if we agree that the compliment is accurate, young girls are indirectly taught, often by the female role models in their lives, to deflect, deny, or demote the compliment to ensure that the other person doesn’t think that we think we’re all that. We want to connect rather than offend.  We want to seem modest rather than boastful.  So, many women and girls don’t own their strengths but rather accentuate their weaknesses.

We often see women have the hardest time accepting compliments on their bodies and appearance. I believe this because we see a job as what we do and our body as who we are. Girls and women are so sensitive about their bodies that the topic is often a hot button for immediate fat talk, denigrating self evaluation, and ugly comparisons.  As I mention in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat,  we pass the proverbial baton back and forth, fighting for whose body looks worse.

Lob: “You have the nicest legs.”

Shutdown: “Oh no, I put on so much weight and went up 2 sizes. They’re disgusting.”

Shutdown volley: “If your legs are disgusting, mine must be pathetic.  I don’t just pinch an inch, I can pinch a whole yard!”

And these kinds of conversations happen everyday.

You know what’s really interesting? When we don’t take a compliment, we’re not only being rude to ourselves, but also to the other person. We are saying what the other person thinks—their opinion, is wrong or doesn’t matter or is inaccurate, silly or dishonest.  We may not intend it, but really, that us what’s going on.

So what are we supposed to do?

Say “thank you!” You can even stop there.  But if you are feelings adventurous, go a little further.

Lob: “I love your dress!”

Acceptance: “Thank you. I love this color blue.”

Lob: “Your hair looks great!”

Acceptance: “Thanks! I needed a change and I really like it.”

Lob: “Your presentation to the board was amazing.”

Acceptance: “Thank you! It felt good.”

And let’s not forget to teach our daughters to do the same thing.  We want our girls to own their strengths rather than lead with their perceived weaknesses. It may take some practice, but hopefully, a new pattern of conversation will be created. Don’t you think it’s time?

Note: I thought it was fascinating that Hoda actually all but admitted that fully taking a compliment can indeed make you seem boastful.  When she said to me, what should we say if, for example, I said to you; “I like your glasses.” To which I responded, “You can say ‘thank you.’  And then you can give a little. You can say; ‘I really like the style…or the color or whatever.’  She thought that was too much.  What do you think?  To me, that kind of thinking just seems like girl rules taking over our brains.

drrobynsig170 Compliment Shutdown: Why Cant a Woman Take a Compliment?

Compliment Shutdown: Why Can’t a Woman Take a Compliment? is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

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