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Compliments Make Me Uncomfortable

Last night I made a startling realization about myself.  At least, it was startling to me.  I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection in the last few months.  I’ve been talking to new people.  Getting to know new people and letting new people get to know me in turn.

Some of these new people have been very complimentary of me lately.  I’m a good dad.  I’m a great man.  I’m sweet.  I’m a great writer.  I kick ass.  One person even referred to me as hot.  Sure.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t take compliments very well.  They make me uncomfortable.  I believe I’m a good dad.  I’m not a great man, but I’m good enough.  I have my faults.  I guess I can be sweet at times.  I think I’m a decent writer and I’ve got a few jokes.  Do I kick ass?  Yeah, I think I fully agree with that one.  I definitely don’t think I’m hot, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

At least I know I’m not the only one who has this problem.

This all occurred to me last night when I received one of these compliments.  While I don’t completely agree with all the compliments I receive I don’t completely disagree with them either.  So why do they make me so uncomfortable?  When someone pays me a heartfelt compliment I’m immediately consumed with doubt and do my best to persuade this person that he or she is mistaken.  I pretty much tell that person that he or she is wrong.

Why do they bother me so?  Is it because I’m not used to getting them?  Is it because I don’t want to seem arrogant by accepting them?  I’m very confident in my strengths and well-aware of my weaknesses so I don’t believe it’s a confidence issue.  And I don’t necessarily completely disagree with the compliments I’m receiving (except for the hot one), so what’s the deal?

Here is the part that’s really bothering me.  It irritates the piss out of me when I compliment someone and they argue with me about it.  I’m wrong.  I don’t know what I’m talking about.  And it just occurred to me that I’m guilty of the very thing that aggravates me so much.  And I can’t even explain why I do it.  It’s like reflex.  I just subconsciously do it.  Just like my leg kicks when the doctor hits my knee with that rubber hammer, my mouth spews out crap like, “No, not really,” when somebody tells me I’m sweet.

Last night, when I was told I was a great man I simply responded by saying, “thank you.”  I didn’t necessarily agree that I’m great, but who am I to tell somebody their opinion is wrong?  I was just glad I was able to stop myself from arguing with this person before me reflex kicked in.

This is something I need to work on, but I’m not sure how to attack it.  What’s the proper way to accept a compliment?  Simply saying “thank you” doesn’t seem appropriate.  Or maybe it is.  I obviously know nothing of compliment etiquette.

Audience participation time:  Do you have trouble accepting compliments?  If so, why do you think that is?  If not, share your secret.  Whichever way you answer, also enlighten me as to what you think the appropriate way to accept a compliment is.


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77 thoughts on “Compliments Make Me Uncomfortable

  1. Damn Trooper, I’m right there with ya.


    Posted by bats0711 | March 16, 2013, 1:07 am
  2. I definitely have trouble accepting compliments – even when I agree with the compliment being given, saying “thank you” never seems like the right result, and somehow it usually seems more appropriate to disagree with the person. Is that a societal thing? Are we trained to try and be humble and not view ourselves as worthy of compliments? We certainly aren’t trained at accepting them. So, I’m in the same boat as you, I have no idea how to respond to them…

    That being said, you are a good man, and a good writer, and you do kick ass. And you should feel no obligation to respond to this part of the comment at all unless you want to. The compliment was for me to say, and you to hear, I don’t need any confirmation beyond that.


    Posted by djmatticus | March 16, 2013, 1:41 am
  3. What dj said! We were just discussing this the other day. I have problems with it too. I think it’s because I usually doubt that it’s true but mainly because I am naturally incredibly shy (no really!) and as such I have real trouble being the centre of attention (spelled the Aussie way cos your blog has gone international you’re so cool)


    Posted by stephrogers | March 16, 2013, 2:22 am
  4. Don’t imo what to say about this one.


    Posted by 1jaded1 | March 16, 2013, 3:10 am
  5. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable with taking a compliment because I don’t always feel secure enough in myself to see what others see.


    Posted by TheImaginator | March 16, 2013, 4:44 am
  6. I try to remind myself to accept the compliment graciously because I get seriously irked if someone says my compliment doesn’t count or isn’t correct.

    To make it easier on me to accept it, I will usually respond with a compliment back– a true one, of course. It makes me feel like it was an even exchange of goodwill rather than me absorbing someone’s good energy.

    The weird thing is– when I’m giving a compliment, I am purposely giving someone that good energy, with no expectation of having it back.

    Humans are super confusing!


    Posted by rarasaur | March 16, 2013, 6:14 am
  7. Amen! I’m so glad this light bulb went off for you, because it is aggravating to argue over a compliment. Remember, that’s what the other person feels, that’s what they think..you have no control over it, so a simple “thank you” is a perfect solution.
    I don’t take compliments well either and after 3 years with a counselor it came back to my childhood where I didn’t feel “good enough” always in the shadow of my sister. Her advice was just say “thank you” and accept the positive reinforcement that will make you grow…it feeds the soul : )


    Posted by Life With The Top Down | March 16, 2013, 7:21 am
  8. I can handle compliments; they fule my fire, buddy.
    Here’s one for you that you can take to the bank: You’re a good soul with the heart of a poet and the tenacity of a warrior. And you’re going to be just fine.


    Posted by The Hook | March 16, 2013, 7:49 am
  9. Compliments? What are those?

    Yes, I have trouble accepting them, mainly because I think they are untrue and given to me out of pity. One of my many issues. The Daily Prompt had a question about compliments before that ended up with me delving into all my issues with this subject.

    I have taught my kid to say “oh, thank you” and move on rather than argue or go on about his greatness.


    Posted by sortaginger | March 16, 2013, 8:03 am
  10. One issue may be that compliments (like troll attacks) tend towards the extreme of adjectives. Something is “hilarious” when it’s really just “amusing” or amazing when it’s merely “really quite good.” “Awesome” has begun to lose all meaning. So maybe we just tend to distrust the passion. Regardless, the person went to the effort of making it and it’s important to work on being grateful. The simple “thanks” is perfect.


    Posted by rossmurray1 | March 16, 2013, 8:59 am
  11. I have trouble with compliments too. Like Lisa, I’ve got the ‘not good enough’ gene. I go with a simple thank you. It may not be enough, but it’s all I have. Plus I don’t like it when people tell me that my compliment isn’t true. So I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone else.

    P.S. Does Sexy Stormtrooper make you uncomfortable? I’m really sorry if it does.


    Posted by MissFourEyes | March 16, 2013, 9:00 am
  12. I feel your pain on this one. I’m exactly the same! No advice to offer, I’ll just scroll through the comments and look for what well adjusted, confident folks have to say.


    Posted by denmother | March 16, 2013, 9:10 am
  13. Saying “Thank you, I appreciate that” is really all you need to do. It’s ok to be a good person – b/c that’s what’s really going on; our society frowns on this sort of stuff. Break the cycle – say thank you and talk nicely to yourself too. You are those things – and that’s good…


    Posted by Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher | March 16, 2013, 10:20 am
  14. Haha, yeah, that would be gracious and endearing.


    Posted by twindaddy | March 16, 2013, 10:50 am
  15. I completely understand this.

    ….do you find yourself being sarcastic (kinda) while stroking your own ego?
    “Yes darling, we are BOTH fucking awesome!!!” It helps. I think.


    Posted by Shackled and Crowned | March 16, 2013, 12:05 pm
  16. You just told my story. Well said!


    Posted by deanabo | March 16, 2013, 12:27 pm
  17. I am horrible about compliments. I am working hard to not respond with an eye roll or smirky shrug. Invariably, an insult is truth written in gold and a compliment is an outright lie being used to protect my feelings. I am broken, but glad I’m not the only one.


    Posted by calahan | March 16, 2013, 12:56 pm
  18. “Thank You” is the perfect way to accept any compliment.


    Posted by Reviewer Rose | March 16, 2013, 1:05 pm
  19. You just need to accept that under that hardened Trooper exterior lies a sweet and caring guy that just happens to be all of those good things! Oh, and we all know you’re hot under that armor….you’re not fooling anyone. ;)


    Posted by Polysyllabic Profundities | March 16, 2013, 1:32 pm
  20. This right here, makes me feel like I’m not so different from others. I have struggled with this for years. (I think being a recovering addict, with the years of negative internal dialogue, made compliments difficult for me) But now, over 1 year sober, I still struggle with it. I too don’t want to sound arrogant by accepting a compliment. I also think that ‘thank you’ doesn’t describe my gratitude well enough.. it’s like I don’t know how to properly express how a compliment makes me feel. I don’t have any answers either… I battle this everyday.

    I will say, every compliment I’ve ever given was straight from my heart. Everything I’ve told you, about you, is real. And I bet that many others know how wonderful you are as well!! XO …and you are handsome! Don’t deny it babe! :)


    Posted by jenlefeverwood | March 16, 2013, 3:54 pm
  21. A thank you and a smile is really all you need to give back in response to a compliment. But sometimes it is as hard to do as not stepping all over one’s own punchline when telling a story. It’s an art and a skill. It’s something that takes practice.

    So get used to it, TwinDaddy. We folks who hang out here think you’re swell.

    Now say thanks and smile.

    Good job. ;)


    Posted by Elyse | March 16, 2013, 6:56 pm
  22. When someone compliments me I always feel the need to (half-assedly) compliment them back. When certain girls say it just to be way too overly nice, I just want to kick some ass.


    Posted by The Laughing Duck | March 17, 2013, 2:42 am
  23. Considering I totally woman’d out on you before made me realize I too am shit at taking compliments.

    I am so used to both being talked down to as well as talking down to myself I truly become astonished when someone compliments me or takes the time to read what I am writing or posting or what have you. I become honoured and humbled….

    ….which I follow up quickly by putting my feet…upto my legs…..no wait….thighs… in my mouth.

    So for all those great things you said…. Thank you. Truly.

    AND for all those compliments I said: I really mean them. I’ve been floored by the people on WP (like you) that pop by and I do my best to accuratly portray my true feelings and interactions with everyone. I think about all the bullshit in the world and I don’t want to be one of those “hosers” that just add to it, I want to take away from it.

    …..Well you know how it goes with me…. a big dose of shitballs….followed up by a large helping of awesomesauce. ;)


    Posted by theloneshewolf | March 18, 2013, 3:13 pm
  24. Saying “thank you” after someone compliments me always feels like I’m lying to them. I almost never agree with what they say, and to say “thanks” feels as though I’m acknowledging the truth of their statement.

    It’s a work in progress.


    Posted by Jen and Tonic | March 19, 2013, 12:01 am
  25. I get weird with compliments sometimes, too. For me I believe it’s a confidence issue. It’s an ongoing problem I’m constantly trying to work on….but, putting myself aside, I believe a simple “thank you” is all that is expected. They aren’t looking for anything in return (most of the time). When I compliment someone that’s all I’m looking for. And a simple “thank you” rather than arguing with them could actually make you appear even more attractive/great/whatever in their eyes.


    Posted by Nicole Marie | March 19, 2013, 8:54 pm
  26. Yea…I have trouble too And the things that aggravate us the most about others are those things we are most like.


    Posted by hastywords | September 23, 2013, 4:59 pm


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