Eliz Greene

“I got it on sale.”
Denying your joy by deflecting compliments

How well do you take a compliment? If someone exclaims, “Those are great shoes!” Do you say, “I got them at TJ Maxx, $9.00!”

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Gina Barreca speak about the differences between men and women. She said when given compliments or praise men will high five and women will give you four reasons why you’re wrong. It’s so true. Two examples jumped into my mind.

An executive woman was featured in a national magazine and when congratulated said, “I don’t know why they picked me.”

At the National Speakers Association Convention last week, I congratulated another member who had just earned her Certified Speaking Professional designation (the highest earned designation in our profession). She looked surprised, and looked down to her nametag which hid the medal around her neck. Hiding the medal even more she said, “Yes, it’s a little embarrassing.” Embarrassing?

The medal and the designation represent five years of hard work and excellence. Embarrassing? I tried to encourage her to enjoy her moment and her success, but she continued to deflect the praise and didn’t seem to be taking any joy in her accomplishment. How sad.

Women seem to be hard wired to deflect compliments – it seems unladylike to toot our own horns. Yet, what is the point of working so hard, if we never celebrate? No wonder we feel stressed – where is the pay-off? Do you think our deflection impacts how we are compensated and promoted at work? I think so.

We need to change this dynamic and start enjoying the fruits of our labor – and releasing some of the stress.

Here are some tips to stop deflecting complements and enjoy your success:

  • Don’t reassign the praise: Avoid phrases like “My team really deserves the credit.” Try phrases like “It is nice to be noticed for something I love doing.”
  • Don’t diminish the praise: Avoid phrases like “Oh, this old thing?” “I got it on sale.” “It’s really no big deal.” Try phrases like, “They are so comfortable!” “I am very honored.” “Why thank you, I am very touched you noticed.”
  • Don’t cop-out: “So’s yours.” isn’t a compliment — it is a cop-out. If you want to return a complement find something original to praise.

Take a breath and allow yourself to feel the joy in the praise. People compliment you to share in your good fortune or success, don’t deny yourself (or them) the opportunity.

Celebrate, accept compliments and Enrich Your Life to Embrace Your Heart.

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Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.

As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com


About Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher. Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

One Response to “Enrich Your Life:Take a Compliment”

  • I loved your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing the ideas for alternative things to say. I am very guilty of deflecting compliments. Having some tangible ideas of things to say ahead of time really help give me some tools to access quickly. Thank you!

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