Thursday, 17 October 2013

Compliments and Confidence

Paying someone a compliment is such a natural thing to do, you have the ability to make somebody's day.  Why then do we squirm when we are on the receiving end of a compliment?

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Picture the scene - you have just bumped into an old friend who you haven't seen for a few months and they've lost four stone in weight.  It is an automatic reaction to say...

'Oh Doris, you look amazing!'

Your initial reaction is to pay them a compliment because you are genuinely happy for them and they DO look amazing.

Now let's look at the flip side - you are wearing a new coat that took five months to save for and you bump into a friend, they say...

'Oh Doris, I love your coat!'

You say...'What this old thing, oh I've had it in the closet for months!'


Compliments and Confidence

As children we are taught to be confident, to push ourselves with school and leisure activities.  I tell my own children to act like leaders not sheep, but underlying all this positive self promotion we are taught by peers that being confident is not always a good thing.

You may be bullied for being smart, pretty or good at sport.  In the case of a woman, you may be branded as a flirt, slapper or worse if you can engage comfortably with male colleagues. 

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  We are often conditioned to believe that having all this confidence will turn people off us, leaving us alone and unloved and so we shy away from believing in ourselves.

As we reach adulthood these beliefs are often so ingrained we are unable to shake them off, but this can cause us to become needy, a wallflower in our own life and can often mean we are overlooked when the promotions are handed out.

When we receive a genuine compliment it goes against every nerve in our body to accept it, all thanks to this conditioned upbringing.

So what can we do?

  • Unlearn everything you have learnt.  Project a secure image of yourself to the outside world.  In 2006 I went on a Solo's holiday, my first encounter as a newly divorced woman.  The children stayed at home with my parents and I packed my case and flew to Italy.  I missed the rep at the front desk and received a note under my door to say she would see me in the hotel bar.  This meant I had to go looking for someone I had never met, in a public place where everyone spoke Italian but me!  I threw my shoulders back, held my head high and walked as boldly as my wobbly legs would let me, straight up to the barman and asked if you knew the rep.  Long story short, she had seen me walk in but assumed I couldn't be the person she was meeting as I looked so confident!  I was screaming inside but I'd projected the right image.
  • Pay yourself a compliment - why can't you look in the mirror and say 'hey good looking'?  It worked for the Fonz.
  • The toughest one of all is forcing yourself to accept that compliment.  This will take practise but it does work.  The next time someone pays you a compliment, take a deep breath and say Thank You.  Don't dither about thinking of something to say back to them just accept their praise and smile.

Everyone deserves to be complimented so the next time you are out and about try making somebody's day with a kind word or passing praise.

If you can't find anyone to compliment then I can point you in the direction of a whole group of people whose very existence relies on receiving compliments - Authors.

Writer's of fiction, non-fiction and poetry crave and relish a kind word or two.  In fact, if you can squeeze a few more words into your compliment then why not leave a review on an Author's amazon page or on Goodreads, twitter or Facebook page.  Trust me, they WILL thank you for it.

Let me get you started - On Halloween, Douglas McPherson will be giving away copies of his new book, Forever Together on amazon.  Here's the link

Blurb - Follow Nicola's increasingly obsessive interest in the 100-year-dead founder of a fading West End theatre.  But will she ever see him again?

Download your copy, read it and then drop Douglas a review.  Compliments will be gratefully received.

What's the best compliment you've ever received?

Are you a blusher or do you squirm when receiving a compliment?

Let me know how you get on, I love your feedback.

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