Author Topic: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.  (Read 7191 times)

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spookycatlady

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s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« on: March 25, 2014, 12:21:07 PM »
I had a friend (Kim) that I couldn't give a compliment to who would never react well if anyone said anything nice to her.

Me: That's a great pair of shoes!
Her: They're really uncomfortable.

Me: I like that haircut you just got.
Her: It's called, 'I can't be bothered to blow dry.'

Me: Nice shirt!
Her: I feel fat in it.

It was exhausting and awkward because her sister (Jill) and I, who were also close friends, would gush at one another all the time.  We referred to our friendship as the Mutual Appreciation Society.  It would have been really strange for Jill and I to ignore the awesomeness that was Kim, but she just wouldn't take a compliment.  She was free and easy with her praise of others (and also criticism, but that's a different tale), so it really just boiled down to a self-esteem issue. 

She stopped doing it for the most part when one day I said, "I love your bag," and she responded, "It makes me feel like a hobo."  I sighed deeply and heavily and said, "The correct response is to say 'thank you.'  It makes me feel like a jerk with bad taste when you deflect me saying something nice."

I've always felt rude for correcting another adult's behaviour.  How else do can one reasonably respond when someone just won't let you compliment them?  In this case, I could have just stopped, but again it would have felt very strange to say something nice to her sister and then nothing about Kim... like it would be confirming Kim's darker thoughts about herself (nobody likes me, I'm unattractive...)  And it was one of my favourite things about hanging out with Jill was how nice, positive and affirming being around her was.

metallicafan

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2014, 12:38:52 PM »
What was her response when you told her that the correct response to a compliment was Thank You?

If she keeps on deflecting compliments,  I would probably stop complimenting her.   
When you and Jill are out together by yourselves,  feel free to gush over each other's outfits all you want.
My best friend and I do the same thing!


GlassHalfFull

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2014, 12:40:03 PM »
I've known a few people like that, and I'd just respond with a noncommittal "conversation noise", such as "Huh."  And then bean dip.  Worked well for me as I didn't have to waste my time wondering about and editing what I should or shouldn't say to them.

otterwoman

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2014, 12:49:14 PM »
A recent web post about women and compliments. Warning, the video is not safe for work!!!

http://www.levo.com/articles/lifestyle/why-cant-women-take-a-compliment

m2kbug

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2014, 12:49:46 PM »
I would probably just stop commenting.  Imagine this -- one day she mentions, "You didn't say anything about my new haircut," and what will be your response?  "You always say something negative when I complement you, so I didn't say anything, but I it's really cute."  They miss the attention when it's gone.  I'm glad you were able to point out to your friend her responses are off-putting.  Without explaining to her that she always has a negative response to any complement, I think the best course of action would be to just not complement her.  After awhile of no complements, when one day you say, "Cool handbag!", perhaps she'll be more accepting.  :) 

mime

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2014, 01:06:10 PM »
I have to actively keep myself from responding like Kim when I'm complimented.

Often a compliment is a conversation starter, and I'm not good at small talk. When someone says "hey, that's a cute sweater" I search my brain for something to say in addition to "thank you". I feel like "thank you" is absolutely appropriate, but doesn't keep the conversation rolling.

Now I don't know if my upbringing is to blame for this, (sometimes self-put-downs are jokingly called 'Minnesotan', 'Norwegian', 'Midwestern', etc), but the first things that come to mind in response to 'cute sweater' is 'it's just too warm to wear it all day' or 'I think it makes me look pregnant' or something like that. I struggle to come up with something like 'it's my favorite cozy-sweater' or 'I loved the color as soon as I saw it'. My grandmother, queen of inflicting self-deprecating behavior on others, would have scolded me for those latter responses as being boastful!  ::)

Could it be that Kim is also awkward in conversations in general? I know it doesn't make her responses any less off-putting, but it could explain the behavior? I find that some gifted conversationalists have helped me when they say something like 'cute sweater-- I like that shade of blue'. It allows the awkward-me to agree with them and return a positive comment about liking the color, too.


PastryGoddess

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2014, 01:23:59 PM »
I have to actively keep myself from responding like Kim when I'm complimented.

Often a compliment is a conversation starter, and I'm not good at small talk. When someone says "hey, that's a cute sweater" I search my brain for something to say in addition to "thank you". I feel like "thank you" is absolutely appropriate, but doesn't keep the conversation rolling.

Now I don't know if my upbringing is to blame for this, (sometimes self-put-downs are jokingly called 'Minnesotan', 'Norwegian', 'Midwestern', etc), but the first things that come to mind in response to 'cute sweater' is 'it's just too warm to wear it all day' or 'I think it makes me look pregnant' or something like that. I struggle to come up with something like 'it's my favorite cozy-sweater' or 'I loved the color as soon as I saw it'. My grandmother, queen of inflicting self-deprecating behavior on others, would have scolded me for those latter responses as being boastful!  ::)

Could it be that Kim is also awkward in conversations in general? I know it doesn't make her responses any less off-putting, but it could explain the behavior? I find that some gifted conversationalists have helped me when they say something like 'cute sweater-- I like that shade of blue'. It allows the awkward-me to agree with them and return a positive comment about liking the color, too.



This was me a few years ago.  So now I say thank you and then throw in why I liked it or why I brought it.  So I'll say Thank you, these shoes were so cute on the shelf. Thank you, I couldn't resist the color.  Thank you, this was on sale for X% off.  Stuff like that. The more I did it, the more comfortable I became with accepting compliments. 

Some people will continue the conversation, but most people drop it since they just wanted to drop a compliment. 

TOLady

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2014, 01:27:14 PM »
I have many much younger friends, and having had body image issues myself in the past, am aware of their discomfort when I compliment them.

In a "mentoring" role, I have been able to bring quite a few of my younger friends to the point where they now simply say "Thank you!" and take it as the compliment it is meant as.

Quite a few of them were just so unused to being complimented, they were just putting themselves down before someone else could do it  :-[.

Vall

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2014, 01:35:08 PM »
There was a time--I don't remember if it was when I was in my teens or twenties--when I used to respond like Kim.  Then I either heard or read a comment similar to yours.  What I do remember clearly is that a light bulb went off and I realized that I should simply say "Thank you" for compliments.  I had to re-train myself in how to properly accept a compliment.  Before that, I didn't realize how negative that I had been.

I don't see anything wrong with gently bringing up the topic with someone who may not realize how negative they're being.  But I would only bring up the topic once.  After that, if they continue being negative, I would simply stop complimenting them.

whatsanenigma

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2014, 01:52:01 PM »
There was a time--I don't remember if it was when I was in my teens or twenties--when I used to respond like Kim.  Then I either heard or read a comment similar to yours.  What I do remember clearly is that a light bulb went off and I realized that I should simply say "Thank you" for compliments.  I had to re-train myself in how to properly accept a compliment.  Before that, I didn't realize how negative that I had been.

I don't see anything wrong with gently bringing up the topic with someone who may not realize how negative they're being.  But I would only bring up the topic once.  After that, if they continue being negative, I would simply stop complimenting them.

I agree with this.  I had to have the "light bulb moment" also.  I still feel awkward stopping at "thank you" so I will usually add a little filler, like mentioned above, about where I got it or what drew me to it on the shelf or if it was a gift from somebody or what.

And I also agree with trying to explain this to her one time.  If it doesn't work, just stop complimenting.  If she says anything about this, just say (sincerely) that you have the impression that complimenting her is making her uncomfortable so you have stopped.  Then, go from there.

TootsNYC

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2014, 01:59:08 PM »
  I sighed deeply and heavily and said, "The correct response is to say 'thank you.'  It makes me feel like a jerk with bad taste when you deflect me saying something nice."


Although technically your phrase "the correct response is" is a correction and instruction, but the fact that you went immediately to an "I" statement means you were really informing her about the reaction she was creating in you. And your first sentence was more of a "this is the response that I am hoping to get."

I have found that the times I've felt it necessary to mention the "receiving a compliment badly" thing, I've suggested that the person treat such a comment ("I love your bag") as not being a compliment to THEM, but to the bag, and to join in the admiration ("yes, it's pretty, isn't it?"). Just as, if I said, "I like your sister," you wouldn't thing it was a compliment to you, but to your sister. You wouldn't say "thank you"; you'd say, "she is neat, isn't she?"

But I think your response was the right one. It hurts you somehow, it makes you feel bad, when she rejects the compliment. So I think it's fair to share that info with her.

There might be more flowery ways, but they're longer and sometimes not as powerful.

GreenHall

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2014, 03:46:16 PM »

I have found that the times I've felt it necessary to mention the "receiving a compliment badly" thing, I've suggested that the person treat such a comment ("I love your bag") as not being a compliment to THEM, but to the bag, and to join in the admiration ("yes, it's pretty, isn't it?").


And this is why I can (generally) accept compliments on clothes, accessories, etc, but hair and especially eyes are harder.  I feel conceited (maybe not the right word, but can't come up with anything better) saying "Thank you" or similar when people compliment my eyes. (Which are apparently quite striking, though they don't see very well without correction).

gellchom

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2014, 03:57:11 PM »
It can be hard to learn to receive a compliment graciously, but it is an important skill.  I find it helps to think of a compliment as a little gift.  It feels awkward or immodest to say "thank you" when you feel as if you were agreeing with praise of yourself, but not if you think of it as thanking them for being nice to you.  You know you don't want to slap them back for that.

I enjoy seeing people seem happy when I respond with something like, "Oh, thank you for noticing!  It's my favorite" or "Thank you!  My mother-in-law gave it to me; she will enjoy knowing I'm getting compliments on it."  Even if you are so "Minnesotan"  :) that you can't resist saying something sort of self-deprecating, you can make it work: "Oh, thank you for saying that!  I was actually wondering if I looked good in this, but you've really helped me feel confident about it."  That way the person feels good for complimenting you, not like their gesture and goodwill were rejected.

Whether you correct someone else on this depends on your relationship and the circumstances.  I wouldn't do it unless I were close with her, and I wouldn't do it in front of anyone else.  Your response was good, although I would try to resist the temptation to sigh heavily and say "The correct response is to say 'thank you.'"  I'm guessing that made her feel a bit scolded, like a naughty child.

But I really like this part: "It makes me feel like a jerk with bad taste when you deflect me saying something nice."  As Toots points out, "I messages" and asking for what you need are usually a better bet than judgment and "you always" statements -- i.e., "When you ___, it makes me feel ___, so please ____" instead of "You always ___, and you shouldn't; you should ____."  So in this case, you might have said, "You know, Kim, I wish you would just say thank you.  I know many people find it difficult to accept compliments.  But when you deflect my compliments, it makes me feel like I have bad taste."

I think that something like that would be less likely to distract the listener into thinking "Who does she think she is, giving me a manners lesson?" when what we want is for her to be thinking, "Oh, gosh, I thought I was just being modest -- I didn't realize I was making her feel rejected."

leafeater

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2014, 04:03:02 PM »
I used to respond to compliments the way Kim does. Then a friend called me out on it in almost exactly the way you did.

Now, when someone compliments me, I say "thanks!" And you know what? I'm glad I learned how to do it.

So, you know. Maybe you did her a favor.

whatsanenigma

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Re: s/o commenting on appearance- not taking a compliment well.
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2014, 04:40:20 PM »

I have found that the times I've felt it necessary to mention the "receiving a compliment badly" thing, I've suggested that the person treat such a comment ("I love your bag") as not being a compliment to THEM, but to the bag, and to join in the admiration ("yes, it's pretty, isn't it?").


And this is why I can (generally) accept compliments on clothes, accessories, etc, but hair and especially eyes are harder.  I feel conceited (maybe not the right word, but can't come up with anything better) saying "Thank you" or similar when people compliment my eyes. (Which are apparently quite striking, though they don't see very well without correction).

Could you maybe say something like "Thank you, everyone says they are exactly like my mother's" or "Thank you, we had hoped [your child] would get that shade also but he got the same beautiful color of [other color] as his father" or whatever applies? (I don't know if you have a child or if your mother's eyes are the same color.  I'm just giving examples to play with.  :) )