Giving compliments is fine - how about taking them? — R Voice

Giving compliments is fine - how about taking them?

Jayashree Rajagopalan
Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 261 admin
edited April 2021 in Everything & Anything

Last evening I was talking to a frolleague (friend/colleague) late last evening and I realized that she was doing a lot of good stuff at work. So I complimented her and highlighted some new skills she had developed. She took the compliments graciously and was happy to hear these words of encouragement from me. She then spoke about how she learned a lot from me and complimented me and appreciated some of my qualities she thought were skills! And that's when things changed...

This was when I got really uncomfortable and didn't know how to take the compliments. I felt like I didn't deserve the good things she said about me. In fact, I thought that I had done nothing she credited me for. It felt like being appreciated for something I didn't deserve.

Is anyone else like this too - How are you when it comes to complimenting other people. And, more importantly, how are you when you are being complimented by people?


  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭✭

    @Jayashree Rajagopalan Ah...Yes...feeling uncomfortable receiving compliments. I join the club - sort of. 😂 But as usual from a slightly different viewpoint.

    As with other negative emotions - I try to analyze why I am feeling uncomfortable. There is usually a reason - arising from the environment or sometimes, within myself - bad day, feeling crappy about myself after a bad day, etc.😉

    Taking the nature/quality of relationship between the two parties out of the equation and assuming I am in a confident mood - one of the reasons why I might have felt uncomfortable in a similar scenario is that it appears transactional. It might have made me feel - even if the compliment was merited "Huh? Did this person misinterpret my compliments to mean that I am fishing for compliments for myself? I actually genuinely meant my appreciation and dont want this to be transactional!!"

    Or because it feels transactional and if the compliment was over the top and unmerited - I may have thought "may be the compliments dont mean anything because the person was just being polite - the socially acceptable response to a compliment is to counter compliment, after all"

    On that note, I think I am ok with genuine compliments that are fair, merited and honest, which are actually VERY rare.

    When I compliment, it is usually genuine and merited. And usually, I try not to provide appreciation in counter-compliment scenarios - especially if I really mean the appreciation and I really care about the person. Because I know there is space for misunderstanding. I expressly choose a time and place to convey my appreciation putting the entire focus on the other person - without making it as a continuity piece. some cultures/social ecosystems, compliments are used as currencies and/or have some undercurrent. Or in some social ecosystems, everyone compliments everyone even on the smallest things without merit - because it is polite as dictated by social norm, almost a habit and therefore is not genuine. The whole thing is obviously a charade. Many times empty of meaning and genuineness - which is obvious to all parties and therefore disappointing at the core for all parties. Other times, it takes a vicious undertone - people complimenting over the top in front of you and bitching behind the back.

    Some other times, the compliments that made me uncomfortable later turned out to be red flags that I ignored naively. These compliments were tools to use people - and ended up with manipulation and trickery. Or were compliments used as power play to make the person complimenting seem like a better person or gloss over their mistakes/responsibilities or an attempt to fish for counter compliments.

  • Dahlia T
    Dahlia T Member Posts: 93 ✭✭✭✭

    OMG @Jayashree Rajagopalan, I think you were spying on a text message I had with someone just yesterday. The very same thing happened to me 😮 Recently, I asked someone to review my CV and the person eventually came back, and with quite a few 'complimentary' things .... man was I uncomfortable. I wasn't sure how to reply. I think I must have written my reply 3 times before actually hitting send. And this was not the first time. I tend to move things quickly along when people start to 'focus' too much on me, you know giving compliments or saying 'nice' things about/to me. I tend to think they really mean it for someone else, they are just saying it because, etc etc. Yes, I definitely have a genuine problem in that department ... and it sometimes come across as if I am being coy, when honestly it is because I am so uncomfortable,. Yup, I need to work on balancing. I am okay with giving genuine compliments ...I think I need to start learning to gracefully accept them ---you too my friend, as it is in you and many others see it! 🌷

    I am purposefully driven to water the soil to grow the seed that is already planted. 

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 261 admin

    @Raj sundaram _ I've come to enjoy your "as usual from a slightly different viewpoint" views 🤗 Yeah the situation yesterday wasn't transactional at all. Was quite genuine, the conversation. But I hear ya - about compliments becoming transactional or worse shallow. I was prompted to share this because I read @Lafi Munira 's post about dealing with people who brag. While bragging is one side of highlighting achievements, compliments are another. And when I was uncomfortable, I wondered if there were others who felt like I did. And I also get what you're saying about how compliments are used in certain cultures. In either case, in an ideal world, compliments should be paid when they are meant. But we're not in an ideal world, so...

    In the meanwhile I need to work on handling compliments/praise from people close to me and who I know mean it when they say it! That one's gonna be tough for me.☺️

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 261 admin

    haha yeah it does looked like I hovered around this exchange you had. Let me know how you learn to deal with this. I could use some tips. Giving compliments is easy, accepting them isn't always so.

    My worry is, now, the more I am thinking about this as I talk to folks here...I am worried that I may have been guilty of paying someone a fake compliment 😕 I don't think I'm going to do this again. The guilt is not a good bag to carry. And perhaps this has made me squirm at receiving compliments too. That and the other fact that I don't always feel like I deserve them.

  • Yufita Chinta
    Yufita Chinta Member Posts: 126 ✭✭✭✭

    I think you were spying on a text message I had with someone too, @Jayashree Rajagopalan 😅

    Since this is my graduation, I send a thank message to everyone who has leaved the lab and involved in my study. It is he, who was bossy to me and doesn't allow to to use lab's facilities and materials in the beginning of my research. He came to the lab a year before me, but graduated for his master and leaved. I thought he won't reply my message. Surprise!!!! He replies with a very warm message with compliments: "I really admire your strong passion and will".

    I am in tears immediately. After all of the stories I have been through, now, my heart is so warm and comfortable. I feel a heaven in my feeling. 😊

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 261 admin

    @Yufita Chinta this was a nice gesture from you. Despite the fact that he was not on the best terms with you, you made it a point to reach out to him. And it's nice to see the turn of events and in his warm communication with you. You earned the compliments! 👩‍🎓

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2021

    Quickly...if my discussion on fake compliments triggered a sense of guilt, sorry @Jayashree Rajagopalan ...I think as you rightly put it...we don't live in an ideal world. And we...most reasonable our best to be self-aware, genuine and reasonable. And in all probability...your responses and actions, including complimenting others comes from a reasonable stance. 🤗

    On a similar note, I seem most comfortable getting compliments from people who once got angry with me with genuine care...when I did a bad job, and rooted for and pushed me to improve...but with acceptance for my core self. The compliments I receive after improvement are truly heart felt and taste the sweetest. Guess, its the genuineness and intent that matters the most for me. Huh...learnt something about myself. 😉

    @Yufita Chinta : awesome gesture!

    And hope we all (@Jayashree Rajagopalan , @Yufita Chinta and @Dahlia T ) can bring ourselves to let genuine appreciation in without feeling uncomfortable. 🤗

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 261 admin

    Hey @Raj sundaram - nothing in what you said sent me on a guilt trip. Just some self-reflection after having conversations did 🙂 Genuineness is the key to both giving and receiving, you're right. Glad you made a little discovery about yourself, too, there! I know I'll be super conscious now when complimenting someone and really mean it. In academic environments, though, for an early-career researcher especially a well-intended and genuine compliment could go a long way in building the confidence they need to go all the way - that's what I realized.

  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭✭

    Absolutely...real compliments and in general well intentioned well communicated feedback coming from a place that recognizes true potential for early career researchers can be a huge boost.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 696 admin

    Oh wow! This is a real toughie @Jayashree Rajagopalan and I'm sure you'll recall some of the in-person conversations we've had about this too.

    When it comes to giving people compliments, I tend to give my all. I put my heart and soul into a compliment and wish to make the person feel amazing. I'm not quite sure why I do this, but it seems to make the person I'm complimenting happy, and that in turn makes me happy. So I'm going to continue doing this 😅

    Now getting and accepting compliments is a whole other ballgame for me. I don't think I'm good at this at all, and I think it has a lot to do with my imposter feelings to some extent. Like many of you have mentioned in your comments, I feel uncomfortable or feel like the person is just trying to be nice and doesn't really mean the compliment sometimes. But mostly, it just stems from a feeling of "not being deserving" of such kind words. I'm definitely working towards unlearning this behavior and so far I'm stuck at a stage where I question why I'm mentally rejecting a compliment whenever it happens. I sure have a long way to go and hopefully we can all help each other get over to the other side. 🙂

    P.S. Great points brought up by everyone here! 😊

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 249 admin

    For the longest time, I used to be this way, feeling uncomfortable when someone complimented me, and trying to brush it off by focusing on what others did to help me, how the time was conducive...I seemed bent on proving that I didn't really deserve the compliment, things just happened by chance, and I just happened to be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. One day, a frolleague of mine actually cut me short and said: "Kakoli, that's not how you should respond to a compliment - just say thank you and give a lovely smile - that's all you need to do!" Ever since, whenever I catch myself trying to brush aside a compliment, I remember what she said, cut myself short, take a deep breath, say thank you and flash a big smile! :) Though most of the time it's followed by "Awww...that's so very sweet of you."

  • Lidia Lins
    Lidia Lins Member Posts: 48 ✭✭✭

    That's a very important point @Jayashree Rajagopalan ! I guess specially when we are used to please other people we don't know what to do when WE receive compliments from others.

    For me it was very hard in the beginning. I started practicing on it by saying thank you in a very automatic way, without really thinking the other person was telling the truth, and slowly I started to really integrate those compliments and feel them in my heart as well.

    I feel you are a very warm person and I love your smile and how you speak. You also do this magic with words by putting them exactly in the right place. I am sure you deserve all the compliments that you get!