Communication is precarious. We reveal ourselves through what we say to others, often delivering messages we don't plan. Knowing my words and how I use them are so self-exposing is unnerving. And yet, I keep talking!
What's more, we live in separate fishbowls where what we say puts us on display with unintended consequences. Sometimes we open our trench coats to the world, and whoops!
The nakedness of communication was a topic covered in the recent episode of The Delicious Story about constructive criticism. Personal reflection regarding our words is essential, especially when we offer feedback to others.
It was a natural segue to go from evaluating the negative perspective of criticism to what goes on when we receive compliments, too.
For many, praise is hard to hear. If compliments make you more uncomfortable than negative feedback, you'll want to check out the podcast.
Here I dive into some of the significant insights we discussed regarding feedback generally with 3 tips to accept praise with grace.
Whether positive or negative, it's essential to understand the role of feedback in the first place. Some of us (I don't think I'm alone in this) struggle with receiving an evaluation from others, even when offered with empathy and objectivity.
If you get stalled on the word criticism, it could be helpful to reframe with the word feedback in your head. Look at someone's observations as an opportunity rather than harm. Take an objective view and ask, "What can I learn from this?"
On the other hand, compliments can be especially problematic if we don't expect them. Most of us don't adjust quickly to surprise. Our reptilian brain goes on full alert, warning us of danger.
When someone tells you your presentation was well-executed and informative, it can throw you off-kilter, especially if your critical inner voice has concluded your presentation was a bust.
3 Tips to Accept Compliments with Class
- Recognize praise. Focus first on relaxing into the compliment. When someone says something affirming, keep your mind and body language open.
- Express gratitude. I speak from experience that I used to counter compliments with a joke or excuse. But in doing so, I degraded the gift of the other person. A compliment isn't so much about me as someone striving to be generous. Respond to compliments as a gift and say something simple like, "You're so kind. Thank you."
- Internalize the compliment. We all know that it can be easier to believe the negative stuff, but we are not all of one thing or another. Celebrate your strengths and success to help build your resilience for when you must work harder to improve in other ways. This last tip requires practice, and I confess I find it difficult – but once you receive praise – allow yourself to add it to the story you tell yourself about yourself.
Whenever the world offers up kindness in the form of a compliment, it's a treasure to be honored. Acknowledge praise gracefully and with gratitude, and you help spread kindness in the world.
Feeling overwhelmed by the world. Remember that it all starts with you. You are human and so is everyone else. Humility can help get us all to a better place. Become part of the humbly human movement.