Why Can’t Women Accept a Compliment?

    a.101 raccoon#5

    Turns out most women cannot gracefully accept compliments, regardless of her accomplishments! The question is, Why? Why is it so difficult to accept a compliment? Even worse, why do so many women react to (retaliate?) to compliments by issuing an automatic put-down, thus diminishing the compliment’s value?

    Some reasons offered are:

    *A woman may want to be seen as modest and self-effacing, which can turn into a game of one-upmanship. (Apparently even in 2015 there remains a lingering belief this is “preferable” woman’s behavior.)

    *Low self-esteem/self-worth (after all if you think poorly of yourself and another doesn’t, that conflicts with your existing belief system).

    *The complimentor just feels sorry for her (aka is just being “nice”).

    *The belief if she can do it, “anyone” can.

    *Cultural and ideological beliefs (such as: believe in yourself, but keep quiet about it).

    a.303w woman squarish dress
    Women receive mixed messages:

    ~love yourself, but not too much

    ~be confident, but humble

    ~accept yourself “as is,” while the self-improvement industry earns billions of dollars annually

    ~go after what you want, but not too loudly and kindness first. (No stepping on anyone’s toes along the way.)

    Though women are said to be 51% of the world’s population, turns out the world isn’t comfortable with women acknowledging their own worth and value. The women who do are viewed as arrogant, unfeminine, and often equated with female canines.

    Some ways women respond to compliments:


    *poo-poos the thing she did, as though it were “nothing”

    *compliments the person who complimented her (thus getting the spotlight off herself).

    a.304w woman 70ish hair
    Gotta wonder about wikiHow offering an 8-step outline (with pictures) on how to accept a compliment.

    Amy Schumer offers an extreme (and uncensored) parody on women‘s ability to accept compliments

    Here’s an idea. (View this as an experiment if that makes it easier.) The next time someone gives you a compliment, look him or her in eye and say, “Thank you.” Then remain silent for the next minute or two.

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    kath unsworth - January 14, 2015 - 12:18 am

    Tana I agree it is easier to give one than to receive one. But I am going to try what you say and feel comfortable in accepting the compliment with a thank you. Great reminder, women all over the world should do this. Happy day to you.

    Sheila Bergquist - January 14, 2015 - 1:32 am

    I can proudly say that I learned how to say “thank you” and nothing else when complimented many years ago. Now, I have to admit that once in awhile, depending on what I’m being complimented about, I slip up and try to pass it off as nothing. But it’s rare. I finally learned this and I’m not sure how…I just kept at it until it became a habit.

    Hope all is well and happy with you Tana!

    Tana Bevan - January 15, 2015 - 9:31 am

    Kath~I’m rooting for you in your graciously-receiving-compliments pursuit. It’s definitely a worthy one. Cheers!

    Tana Bevan - January 15, 2015 - 9:32 am

    Sheila~Kudos & good for you! I love how you “just kept at it until it became a habit.” In truth, that applies to all aspects of our lives, both positive and negative. Thank you for the reminder. :-)

    Star Hunter - January 15, 2015 - 5:33 pm

    Great post, Tana. You are terrific. Your doodles and your astute commentary are spot on.

    IR - January 15, 2015 - 5:42 pm

    I love your commentary and the Amy Schumer bit is absolutely amazing. IMHO there is much more than a “lingering” belief that women are supposed to be self-effacing. This Marianne Williamson quote comes to mine, “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”

    Tana Bevan - January 15, 2015 - 7:13 pm

    Thank you, Star! *smiles*

    Tana Bevan - January 15, 2015 - 7:14 pm

    I hear you, IR. I also really like the Marianne Williamson quote. First time I heard it. Thanks for sharing.

    Star - January 15, 2015 - 7:20 pm

    Great to see you’re practicing the technique. You’re right ~ it isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.