Them: “I like your trousers”
Me: looking like a deer in headlights replies “Oh yeah, I’ve had these for ages” while frantically trying to think of a new subject to talk about.
This is how I used to take compliments (and occasionally still do). They can make me so uncomfortable. There was a time when I’d just shut off, freak out, not know what to say, and go red in the face. I think it was because all of a sudden I was the centre of attention and that made me extremely uncomfortable, especially when it was in a group of people. All eyes were suddenly on me as if checking if the compliment were accurate, or that’s how it felt at least. Thankfully I’m getting better at pretending to accept them and trying to be grateful for them, instead of deflecting them and being self-critical.
I think it’s also a challenge when we live in a society in which it’s far less common for men to give/receive compliments, especially from other men. Girls seem far quicker to complement each other, whereas guys will most likely make observations and keep it to themselves.
We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled – Mason Cooley
Not to get too esoteric on it, but there is something to be said for acknowledging compliments. I mean, no matter how we react, they are nice, right? Why wouldn’t we want to allow more of that into our lives? I still remember people who complimented me on things as a kid.
It’s been a process of learning not to close off when I’m complimented. I try not to overcomplicate it, not try to return the compliment in some way unless it feels true or comes easy. Starting with a “thank you” and a smile, then leaving it at that, instead of finding a way to cut myself down afterwards. I try to feel a little gratitude toward the person. It’s nice to be complimented and the more appreciative I can be, maybe the more it’ll happen as I open up to it.
“It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.” – Oscar Wilde
I still struggle a little with giving compliments (ask my previous girlfriends..) so I really try to say something nice as I think of it. It can sometimes come across as a little awkward, but then again, I am a little awkward. It feels nice to be complimented even if it feels a little uncomfortable at the time, but it’s far better than the opposite, and it feels even better to give them as I’m gradually finding.