Have you ever wondered why some people can’t seem to give a compliment? Or are you having a hard time giving one whenever you see an opportunity?
We all know that it’s something that is generally appreciated. We like to hear good things about ourselves when we know it’s sincere. It reinforces positive self-esteem. So, why can complimenting people feel so difficult sometimes?
Compliments trigger our own insecurities
When you recognize a reason to give a compliment, you are recognizing a positive or admirable quality or accomplishment. That is a great thing to do in most cases. But for some of us, it feels more like shining a light on our own inadequacies rather than providing positive feedback to someone else.
To tell someone how well they did or how much you admire them can feel like saying “I could never do as well, look as good, be as accomplished as you.”
It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to be able to give a compliment and accept that the compliment has nothing to do with you.
We don’t see the need
Receiving compliments can make people squirm and there are many reasons for this.
For those who would rather not be complimented, the idea of giving a compliment often never occurs to them. In their minds, since they don’t want to hear them (so they say), neither does anyone else.
These are the ones who often find the motive behind a compliment suspicious and see them as a potential attempt at manipulation. Because they find receiving a compliment doubtful, they make a practice not to give them, either.
Compliments make us vulnerable
To offer a compliment means that you have watched and noticed someone. Admitting to this by offering praise puts us in a position to experience rejection.
“What if they find me weird to have said that? What if they think I want something? Or what if they wonder why I think I have the right to judge?”
Any version of these thoughts might cause someone to think twice about giving a compliment. Since there’s a likelihood that even the sincerest praise won’t be well-received by the recipient, it keeps a person from ever being willing to offer it.
They challenge a perceived balance of power
For some, offering a compliment feels like a sign of weakness and upsets the balance of power within the relationship. There is the feeling that the person receiving the compliment may now have the upper hand or that they will somehow now feel superior to the person offering the compliment.
No matter how deserved the praise is, that perception can keep it from ever being expressed. Although this can go along with insecurity as a reason for avoiding compliments, it’s a very specific form and can be a sign of narcissistic behavior. The struggle for power in a relationship — romantic, business or otherwise — can lead to many problems.
We all like positive feedback. Knowing that those around us see something positive about us makes us feel valued. Compliments also reinforce good and productive behaviors. When people are recognized through praise for certain things, they tend to want to continue to do those things.
As much as we like to receive compliments, it is equally important to be willing to give them. Being able to freely recognize good things in others is a sign of emotional intelligence and maturity.
The stumbling blocks for giving compliments that I mention above should be looked at as areas for personal growth. As those areas are addressed, a person’s confidence and comfort level with complimenting others will increase.
Not only will these little acts of recognition benefit the receiver, but they will also benefit the giver as well. A sincere compliment can create a feeling of appreciation and positivity that both parties will enjoy.
So, with that in mind, great job in being willing to read this article – it takes courage to see where we can grow!
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Author: Dr. Kurt Smith
Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching, a Northern California counseling practice that specializes in helping men and the women who love them. His expertise is in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better.