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Why is it so hard to accept compliments?

9/9/2015, 9 a.m.
Try a little experiment. Think of someone you love or respect, and offer her a compliment.

— Try a little experiment. Think of someone you love or respect, and offer her a compliment. Chances are high that she’ll deflect your kind words, if not outright tell you you’re just plain wrong, suggests a new study, which finds that nearly 40 percent of women have trouble accepting compliments.

Why is it so hard to accept a compliment? Experts say it can often be associated with societal expectations that women appear humble or demur; and other times it’s because of one’s own negative self-image.

In an effort to encourage women and girls to lean in and listen to the compliments they receive, Nutrisystem created the #NowBelieveIt campaign. To learn more, watch their video on Nutrisystem’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/Nutrisystem.

The next time you get a compliment, consider stopping for a minute to hear the message -- you’re a good friend, a great mom, you work hard, you’re smart, you’re pretty -- and take it to heart.

Then, pay it forward and tell someone else what you love or admire about them by using these simple tips.

Be Honest

Would you want to hear a compliment that isn’t true? Then why give that to someone else. Be honest and don’t use compliments as conversation fillers.

Stay in the Present

Sometimes compliments at work come with a caveat -- a reminder that despite good work, there’s more to be done, such as, “That was great, and don’t forget tomorrow’s deadline.” Instead of focusing on what needs to be done in the future, simply give the compliment then come back later to talk about that other project.

Tell Them Why

When giving a compliment, be sure to tell the other person why. Simply saying, “You did a great job today” may fall flat. Try to elaborate with something like, “You did a great job today and your enthusiasm made our whole team shine.”

Shift Your Focus

Compliments that include put-downs often leave the receiver feeling less than flattered. Try to stay away from saying things like “You look so good for your age” or “You’re an awesome parent considering how busy you are all the time.” Shift your focus to the compliment itself -- it’s more meaningful on its own.

Dig Deeper

According to a recent poll, individuals want to hear compliments that dig deeper into who they truly are, such as ones about their personality, about being a good friend, about what they do, about their intellect and about being a good parent.

Focus on these traits when giving compliments and the receiver will be much more receptive to hearing them and believing them.

All it takes is a little practice.