“Mr. Craig, you get a lot of compliments. How do you stay in the moment and truly appreciate when someone is extending themselves to you?”
“The first thing to do is listen. And be appreciative because you probably earned it.” Wise words from Jim Craig, the goaltender of the men’s ice hockey Olympic team who won the Miracle on Ice in 1980.
A lot easier said than done. Receiving compliments or other peoples’ gratitude can be awkward. We are taught at a young age to deflect the compliment or to compliment the person in return. My first mental reactions are: “be humble, be modest, and don’t let it get to your head.” Or I think, “What I did was nothing so how do I compliment this person back?”
Well, this needs to change and I’ve done some research on how we can all be less awkward when it comes to receiving positive feedback. Keep reading so you can better appreciate these significant interactions and you’ll also gain a better understanding on how others act when you compliment them.
Many psychologists link the ability to accept positive feedback with self-esteem. People seek out information to validate their feelings of self-worth. If you feel crummy about yourself, you won’t be receptive to compliments. However, being uncomfortable with positive feedback is not always linked to self-esteem, cultural influences play a giant part. You don’t want to look cocky or self-righteous to others so you either deflect the compliment, “you’re just saying that,” or downplay the reason for the compliment, “what I did was nothing.”
So now it’s time to let these positive words of affirmation become the highlight of your day. The challenge I present to you: find a way to let these moments truly sink-in so you can respond in a sincere way.
Everyone knows when someone is being insincere when receiving a gift or a compliment. Try not to be that “…oh… great… I’ve always wanted this…. thank you….” person. Develop some strategies to understand the meaning of the person’s gift or positive feedback so you can become more authentic in these interactions.
Here are a few tips on how to let yourself appreciate these moments so you can feel sincere rather than awkward.
Form a Connection: It takes a lot out of people to extend themselves to compliment others. This person has chosen to connect with you with whatever they’re saying. Understand that this moment is more about the other person than you.
Create a Physical Routine: Whenever you notice someone is giving you positive feedback, train your mind to do something physical instead of letting your mind jump immediately to how you’ll respond. My trick is to physically lower my shoulders. This simple act lets my mind understand it’s time to listen.
Take a Deep Breath: You listened to the compliment and are letting it sink in, the best way to digest the compliment, words, or gift is to give yourself a second to process. Take a deep breath to let yourself have a moment to truly understand what just happened and then you can figure out how to respond appropriately.
You Made a Difference: If you notice you are downplaying your significance in what the person is saying, remember whatever you did is earning a compliment. You might not truly understand your role but you made a difference at the right time for this person.
Acknowledge Others’ Roles: Don’t hog the spotlight if you don’t deserve the spotlight. If others participated in the project earning praise, be sure to acknowledge their efforts. You will gain more trust from these team members and also feel better for sharing the praise with others.
Pat Yourself on the Back: Get mentally excited that you positively influenced another person! As Jim Craig said, “… you probably earned it.” You are likely working hard in multiple areas of your life and you did something that impacted others. Congratulate yourself and be appreciative that others are benefiting from all you’re accomplishing!