I was chatting with a friend this week and they paid me a compliment.  I shot back a funny comment (Followed by “That’s what she said”. It totally fit my first remark and made me laugh out loud).  My friend laughed along with me.

Then they stopped laughing and said, “You can’t take a compliment“.

Do you ever have one of those moments where the reality of what someone says startles you with its cold, hard truth?

I have been mulling over that statement and keep thinking of examples that prove how awful I am at accepting compliments.  It is not that I am not thankful.  I am! I say thank you! Then I follow it with some sort of self-depreciating comment. A few examples:

Your children are so adorable.

Thank you! They sure look like their Daddy.

Those cookies you made are AMAZING.

Thank you! The recipe is super easy, though. Anyone could make them.

You look so pretty!

Thanks. You should see what I looked like in ninth grade, though…

You are so fit and thin.

Thanks! I will have you know, however, that my clothing covers a multitude of sins.

(The examples are plentiful.  It is sad, really.)

It is not that I do not like receiving compliments. I DO.  I mean, who doesn’t?  The problem is that I get this awkward, conflicting feeling in my chest.  The kind words make me all warm and fuzzy (and sometimes make me blush), but I also feel like maybe they are exaggerating a little and I would have not said anything if they really knew the true me.  I have many, many flaws. I feel like I need to set them straight somehow.

How dumb is THAT?

When I pay someone a compliment, I do so because I mean it. I think they look pretty, I like their new jacket, I think that their baby is beautiful.  I do not lie to people when I am showering them with uplifting comments.  I am speaking the truth.

I often get perturbed when they deflect my comments, and usually tell them to suck it up and TAKE THE COMPLIMENT.

Pot, meet kettle.

The other part of my own deflection is the fear that instead of coming off as appreciative, I will come off as arrogant.

If someone says to me, “You look beautiful”, and I simply say, “Thank you”, It might be construed that I am not only thankful, but fully expecting the compliment.

Thank you! As a matter of fact, I AM looking quite ravishing today. I was wondering when you were going to say something.


I need to find a happy balance.  To be a woman who can graciously accept compliments and model behavior for her little girl (and her two boys).  I want to be that woman.  You know the one. She is ageless, full of grace and beauty, exuding the love of her God with a peace about her.  I have a long way to get to that point but I am pretty sure that the first step is recognizing my shortcomings.

The next step is deciding to make a change for the better.  Maybe I should stick with the classic, “Thank you. You are too kind.”

So. If you hear/read me knock a compliment out of the air, call me on it.  I will do the same for you.  Our society is often about mocking and belittling others.  How much better would it be if we all lifted each other up a little more?

I think this is the prime time to pay a compliment to each and every one of you reading my drivel.  I do not say it often enough, but I am thankful for each and every one of you.  It seems that just when I want to quit the Internet, someone will comment with something that makes me laugh.  Each and every comment makes me smile. Thank you.

I should also tell you that you are looking particularly smashing today. Don’t you dare tell me otherwise.

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  1. Camels & Chocolate December 4, 2008 12:26 am edit

    As females, I think we’re pre-wired to be that way. It’s like Tina Fey’s whole self-depreciation act.

    Your eyes are gorgeous!

    And don’t you dare counter that with a “Thanks! They’re contacts.” ;-)

    Camels & Chocolate’s last blog post..El Padre

  2. angella December 4, 2008 12:28 am edit

    Thank you! :)

    They are my very own eyes. They get me both *into* and *out of* trouble…

  3. bethany actually December 4, 2008 1:34 am edit

    Another option: “That’s sweet of you to say. Thank you!” delivered with a smile.

    I don’t think anyone who compliments you and gets a smile and an expression of sincere thanks in return could possibly think you were waiting to be showered with your well-deserved accolades. And if they do, then phooey on them. :-)

    bethany actually’s last blog post..Crocheting winter and spring

  4. wwcutie December 4, 2008 7:16 am edit

    Why, THANK you! I don’t know how you’re spying on me, but I AM looking quite nice today. ;)

    wwcutie’s last blog post..I’ve been busy.

  5. ALI December 4, 2008 7:38 am edit

    me = you.

    are you surprised?

    (also, you already know i think you are awesome. but your bod at blogher? KILLER.)

  6. Mrs. Wilson December 4, 2008 7:52 am edit

    That photo is phenomenal. Seriously. And you’re not so bad looking either.

    Once again, Noah is looking over my shoulder (VOYEUR!) as I read this. He’s actually reading a Christmas book, but his eyes wandered to the computer screen on my lap beside him.

    “That woman sounds a lot like you.” is what he said. I’m HORRIBLE at this compliment-taking thing too. When we were first dating, I’d laugh and say he was blind when he’d pay me a compliment. He’d get frustrated and say “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TAKE A COMPLIMENT?!?!” I’m getting better though. I actually say “thank you” now, (followed by a sarcastic comment). (I’m working on it.)

    You think I”m smashing? WELL THANK YOU! I always thought that bed head, yesterday’s mascara that I was too lazy to wash off last night, and frumpy pajamas was my best look.

    Mrs. Wilson’s last blog post..Gingerbreading

  7. Mrs. Wilson December 4, 2008 7:52 am edit

    ps. you also don’t look a day over 25 ;)

    Mrs. Wilson’s last blog post..Gingerbreading

  8. Claire December 4, 2008 8:38 am edit

    I am the same way. I always wished I could be like Phoebe on “Friends.” Whenever people would say, “Oh, Phoebe you look so wonderful.” she would reply, “Thank you… I know though.” And it would be nice to accept someone’s kindness and honesty for once.

    Claire’s last blog post..I’m not a poet, really

  9. Sara December 4, 2008 8:51 am edit

    I paid someone a compliment recently and they said… “Thank you, I needed that today.”…

    and you know what… Lots of times when I receive compliments I really need it, but do deflect it. So, that line will be my standby.

    Thank you… I REALLY needed it.

  10. angella December 4, 2008 8:54 am edit

    I LOVE this. I need to start saying that :)

  11. sizzle December 4, 2008 8:56 am edit

    It’s hard to accept compliments. I struggle with this. But there is no shame in agree with the compliment! I think that’s the hardest part for me- wrapping my own heart/mind around the fact that these things are true and honestly believing them internally. Brushing off a compliment does not allow you that moment to bask in your own fabulousness.

    We all have flaws. The presence of our flaws does not make us any less deserving of receiving a compliment.

    You are beautiful. (Right now in this moment. I don’t care about your supposed body flaws.) The cookies you baked are delicious. (Who gives a hoot if it was an easy recipe.) Your kids are adorable. (And they look A LOT like you too.)

    Just say thank you and smile. :-)

    sizzle’s last blog post..Right Timing

  12. Kristabella December 4, 2008 9:02 am edit

    I so could have written every single word of this. I am the SAME WAY. And sometimes, through blogging, I feel like people think I’m fishing for compliments, so when they say it I feel bad because I wasn’t and then I feel like they felt like they HAD to say it.

    I’m with you. I’m going to try and just take them and say thank you and remind myself that I want the same when I give a compliment!

    Excellent post!

    Kristabella’s last blog post..Bacon Answers Questions From Long Ago

  13. witchypoo December 4, 2008 9:14 am edit

    I just use a simple thank you, but mentioning that the complimenter has brightened your day is a nice, sincere touch.

    witchypoo’s last blog post..Luv My Peeps

  14. Jill - GlossyVeneer December 4, 2008 9:18 am edit

    This is a great post. I’m very guilty of the self-depreciating talk. I mean, I did just write a whole post on my running blog talking about how stupid I look in race photos. It’s just so much easier to go that route!

    Jill – GlossyVeneer’s last blog post..State Jokes

  15. Amanda Brown December 4, 2008 9:28 am edit

    I hear you. I am the queen in the Village o’ Self Deprication.

    Amanda Brown’s last blog post..Dancing Makes It All Better

  16. Kami December 4, 2008 10:08 am edit

    A resounding ME TOO! from over here. I never want to sound pompous so I think I have to say something witty to deflect. Well at lease I try to be witty….

    I must try harder!

    And thanks, you are also looking fabulous! Love the photo.

    Kami’s last blog post..Rubber boy

  17. Sharon December 4, 2008 10:31 am edit

    Another “me too!” over here as well. It’s SO hard for me to take a compliment, and just leave it with just a thanks. I always have to say something sarcastic or deflect the compliment in some way, because that is just so ingrained in me. I grew up thinking I was never as pretty as all the other girls, and I had considerably less talents than most.

    Sounds like there are many of us who are in the same boat, and hopefully we can all learn to take the compliments gracefully, and really believe them.

    Sharon’s last blog post..Santa Baby

  18. Amanda December 4, 2008 10:59 am edit

    Oh my gosh, I think I will copy your post as my own. That is so me. A nice compliment followed by a thank you and a negative from me.

    Amanda’s last blog post..Santa Baby

  19. Jazz December 4, 2008 11:41 am edit

    Totally agree!
    It is hard to take complement and not seem “ya I know I think am so hot too” Which isn’t how I feel. So now I simply just say thank you and bite my tongue.

  20. Hannah December 4, 2008 12:03 pm edit

    “Me too”, from me, too.
    I don’t recall struggling with this as much as I am right now. I’m positive it’s because I have just lost 25lb and the compliments are coming thick & fast. Especially when I go to events where people haven’t seen me for a year. Like my work dinner. YIKES. I was fending off compliments left, right & centre. NOTHING I said in response sounded okay. As soon as somebody says, “you look stunning!” I answer with “you look amazing too, where did you get that dress?” which immediately removes the focus on moi. Do you think they notice?
    One of the other problems I have is the compliments are worded in an odd way sometimes. Like, “you’re looking so good, you’re fading away”. Um, is “fading away” the new “hot” or something? It’s kinda hard to respond to that one. I hear it all the time now. Disturbing, but nice at the same time.

    I really like the response somebody mentioned above:

    “Thanks, I really needed that today.” I’m so gonna steal that.

    Hannah’s last blog post..Social butterfly

  21. Julienne December 4, 2008 12:08 pm edit

    I am the same way, the part about cooking especially sounded like me!

    Also – telling everyone how great they look is funny, but it made me smile. My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship and last week he sent me an e-mail that said “You look beautiful today” even though he knew he wouldn’t be seeing me, and it made my week :)

    Your writing is great!

    Julienne’s last blog post..Overreaction or necessary changes?

  22. gorillabuns December 4, 2008 12:55 pm edit

    I find the people that CAN take a comment don’t necessary need them. The one’s that can’t, are the ones I want to shower with free-love.

  23. Danica December 4, 2008 12:57 pm edit

    Wah ha ha.
    Whenever someone says to my four year old “You sure look pretty” or something like that, she flips her shiny hair and says “I know.”
    It always sends me into a half-cringe, and half wishing I could react that way myself.

    Danica’s last blog post..Meetings

  24. Kristin December 4, 2008 12:59 pm edit

    I am not even sure what I do with compliments I am going to start having to pay attention to that.

    And I am agreeing with everyone else who has said you look fabulous!

  25. ELizabeth December 4, 2008 1:30 pm edit

    It’s the same thing as denying a gift-giver the gift they are giving you, right. By saying… “Oh, I can’t possibly accept this” we are denying the giver the joy they get though the recipient receiving their gift. It’s given with intention that it will be accepted and greatly appreciated, as are compliments.

    ELizabeth’s last blog post..Sharing Raisins

  26. Kimber December 4, 2008 1:33 pm edit

    I did have that problem long ago. I’m sure while married to hubby number 1 (he was very degrading to me), but many months of therapy later I got over it. Even still though I remember being very shy as a youngster and not being able to accept compliments then either so it really was just a character flaw on my part that was exaggerated very much by a “not so very nice” spouse.

    You truly are a natural beauty.

    Kimber’s last blog post..Turn Back Time Thursday

  27. Loralee December 4, 2008 1:58 pm edit

    I have a post in drafts that is a lot like this.

    I have only managed to master not deflecting in one area: My voice. It was really hard to do. Like, REALLY hard.

    However, one day it hit me that when someone said, “I LOVED your performance” and I went on about how much it really sucked, I was being very rude and insulting.

    So? I simply say, “Thank you. I am so glad you enjoyed it.” AND LEAVE IT AT THAT.

    And sometimes? Those are the hardest 9 words in the world to say.

    Loralee’s last blog post..5 things I want to know when I die.

  28. Rachel December 4, 2008 4:10 pm edit

    I so could have written this.
    Damn you. Get out of my head, K.

    Thank you! XO

    Rachel’s last blog post..Layin? Out the Welcome Mat

  29. slynnro December 4, 2008 5:25 pm edit

    I perpetually try to explain away any compliment I get. Unless it’s about my fierce J. Crew collection though.

    slynnro’s last blog post..Elsewhere This Week.

  30. angella December 4, 2008 5:30 pm edit

    But of course. There are no explanations required.

  31. Robyn December 4, 2008 5:37 pm edit

    Why thank you, and you’re looking lovely yourself :)
    Have a great day Angella!

    Robyn’s last blog post..Four year old logic

  32. Meg December 4, 2008 6:53 pm edit

    I have been trying to say Thank You to compliments lately. With my close friends, though, I usually turn it around and say something flippant. But that’s what they’re there for, isn’t it??

    But good for your friend for calling you on it! Sometimes, you need to be properly reminded that you are supposed to ACCEPT compliments :D

    Meg’s last blog post..Essay topic

  33. Cetta December 4, 2008 6:55 pm edit

    Compliments are so hard to take gracefully, aren’t they?

    I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you look a lot like Amy Brenneman. That’s a compliment!

    Cetta’s last blog post..A new baby, and 5 things?

  34. Elaine December 4, 2008 7:29 pm edit

    I hear you on not always being able to take a compliment so well. I think a lot of people are that way. I always question myself in my mind, after the fact, whether or not I said “Thank You!”

    And I did look pretty good today, Thanks! ; )

  35. Andrea December 4, 2008 9:53 pm edit

    True, true.
    I dish out the compliments with a big ‘ol spoon. Because I love people smile. A little, tiny compliment can go a long, freakin’ way.
    Accepting compliments… now that’s hard for me. Because I don’t FEEL as though I deserve them. But, we should not always go by what we feel. I’m finding this out in my old age (ha!).

    This is something I am actively working on. And I started with my husband. Now, when Daniel tells me I’m beautiful, or my body is rockin’, or I’m a great wife… I say: thanks, babe and really let his love sink in. It’s sometimeshard but it has LIFTED my self-esteem.

    As always, a wonderful, thought-provoking post. You’re a rock star, Angella :)

    Hope your night out was FUN!


    Andrea’s last blog post..Savannah

  36. Michele December 4, 2008 10:26 pm edit

    Me too!!! I hate being complimented…I think because I have low self-esteem I hate the attention. I love to give complements but hate to receive them!

  37. Michele December 4, 2008 10:27 pm edit

    By the way, I love your photo – You’re beautiful :)
    (Take that!)

  38. karen December 4, 2008 11:46 pm edit

    You have beautiful eyes :)

    karen’s last blog post..My Favorite picture

  39. anji December 5, 2008 5:17 pm edit

    I have the same problem…. I always thought it was a canadian thing… or, a vain thing. I dunno.

    Meh. We need to be kinder to ourselves sometimes, eh?

  40. angella December 5, 2008 5:22 pm edit

    Amen, sister.

  41. Suebob December 5, 2008 6:37 pm edit

    Channel your inner southern belle. Here is exactly what to say: “Well, thank you! That is so SWEET of you to say.”

    Suebob’s last blog post..The Very First Bad Holiday Sweater Contest

  42. Maria December 5, 2008 8:59 pm edit

    I know exactly what you mean – I do it too. But you are soooo beautiful (I think that was my first thought at BlogHer when I first saw you) and your kids look EXACTLY like you. Except maybe the oldest. He looks like his daddy. :)

    Maria’s last blog post..Three Important Things

  43. The Over-Thinker December 5, 2008 9:40 pm edit

    I usually follow “Thank you” with “I love you.” or “Will you marry me?” :-)

    The Over-Thinker’s last blog post..30 Days of NaBloPoMo….minus the partridge in a pear tree. Who the hell would want that, anyhow?

  44. tjk December 6, 2008 2:07 am edit

    of all the things you do well is that you can ride a motorcycle

  45. Dad Gone Mad December 6, 2008 11:14 am edit

    “You look lovely today.”

    “Shut up. Ass!”

    Dad Gone Mad’s last blog post..So What’s This Book About Anyway?

  46. jenn December 6, 2008 7:38 pm edit

    to be completely honest here? You do this a lot LOL..and I think to myself, wow, why is she so uncomfortable in her own self.. because I think the things you do are wonderful, the pictures, the writting, I dont think you need to lose weight, I think you look like you are at a healthy weight for your body etc. so why cant she just be happy with herself? But then once you posted this, it hit me..we as women do this A LOT! we either feel like its wrong of us to take a compliment because then it will feel like we are gloating, on the other hand if we dont take a compliment, we get these feelings you are experiencing now. I am really glad you posted this, makes me look at compliments in the correct light and just how we should take them!

  47. christy December 6, 2008 11:45 pm edit

    You look so beautiful in that photo. If only you could see what others/I see in you.
    I was looking through my old albums and came across some old photos of that fall photo shoot we did one year and a few of that first summer we moved to Summerland. Graham was such a cute little chubster. I can hardly believe that Graham and Ben were pretty much the only kids around. Oh how we all have gone forth and multiplied. It made me miss you. I miss those first years when we weren’t all so busy.
    I need to stop rambling in your comment section.
    You are such a wonderful woman and I miss having you a short drive away.

    This is where you say “thank you”. :)

  48. mpotter February 8, 2011 4:32 pm edit

    oh my word!
    did i write this? well, i know i didn’t because i know *i* can never get these awesome thoughts/words out.

    i’ve been told (on several occasions) that i’m a PERFECT deflector.
    somehow, though, i don’t think *that’s* a compliment!

    i love reading how insightful you are.
    especially since i see other similiarities in us.

    thank you for writing this one (and so many others!)

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