Many of us have grown up being taught to be modest.
‘Don’t put tickets on yourself’ ‘Be humble.’ ‘Don’t boast.’
It’s good advice in one way: self-promoters and boasters can be hard to be with. A modest person can have an undeniable charm.
Plus, by remaining humble we can perceive our achievements in a healthy light.
However, if we are good at what we do, but are too humble about it, we might not recognise just how good we are. We might become adept at seeing our weaknesses, and be blind to our strengths, and as a consequence limit ourselves.
Further, if we are too humble we might convince other people that we have little to offer. That doesn’t assist our partner, who is trying hard to see the best in us, and if we convince our employer that we are not ‘up to it’ we might miss out on opportunities. Further, a potential employer, or potential friend, might not recognise our potential and take no further interest. You miss out, and they miss out.
But I’m not going to tell you to inhibit or enhance your self-promotion. It’s not advice I can give. I’ll leave you to figure that out. But when it comes to someone else praising you I do have advice: accept it. Accept the praise. Accept compliments. Graciously. That means: accept a compliment without fobbing it off. Saying ‘Thank you’ is sufficient.
‘Why is this advice a tip for being assertive?’
By accepting a compliment without batting it away you are not engaging in a wimpy ‘Do you really think so?’ conversation. Nor are you putting yourself down with a response designed to be ‘humble’.
Nor are you being lame.
Accepting a compliment with straightforwardness and without fuss is a direct, classy way to respond. It’s being assertive.
Of course, there is another big reason to accept compliments, outlined elsewhere in the book. By accepting compliments we can become accustomed to the possibility that we do deserve them. Then we begin to ‘let them in’, where they reignite our innate feeling of being loveable. And then we feel valued. Not by others, but by ourselves. (That’s the best kind.)
Jill: ‘That’s a nice dress.’
You: ‘Oh, this? It’s nothing special.’ Nuh. Bad answer.
You: ‘I think I’ve put on too much weight for it really.’ Totally the wrong response to give.
You: ‘Thank you.’ CORRECT!
You don’t need to add anything, though if you do:
You: ‘You’re saying that to make me feel good.’ Oh no, don’t say that!
You: ‘You look good too.’ Nuh. That’s lame, and it spoils Jill’s compliment. If you think she looks good, say so another time.
You: ‘That’s lovely to hear! Thank you!’ Yep. That’s fine. Or:
You: ‘Thank you! We both look fantastic!’ That’s good too, provided Jill does look fantastic.
Jane, the lecturer, says to you: ‘I liked the questions you asked in my lecture.’
You: ‘If I hadn’t asked the questions, someone else would have.’ Wrong response to give. It lacks graciousness.
You: ‘You don’t think my questions were a little naive?’ That’s not fair. You have been given a compliment, and now you’re asking for reassurance. Don’t do it.
You: ‘Thank you.’ Good response!
It’s the easiest key of all. Just say, ‘Thank you’.
If you find yourself batting a compliment away, retract your statement and thank the person.
‘No, I change my mind. I accept your compliment. Thank you!’
Q. ‘What if the person gives me a compliment but they don’t know what they are talking about?’
‘Someone said I write beautiful poetry, not realising I was purposely writing doggerel.’
A compliment is not a review, it’s a gift from someone appreciative and well-meaning. See it as that and say, ‘Thank you.’
Q. ‘What if the person is being sarcastic or supercilious when they give me a compliment?’
Consider giving the person a big cheery smile and saying ‘Thank you’. And then move on.
Why do we need to be assertive? Find out why in ‘Don’t Live in Wimp City‘.
More assertiveness tips:
1. State what needs to happen from now on.
Don’t state the obvious. Focus on the future.
2. You are not obliged to give a reason.
We are taught to justify our decisions. Forget it!
3. Show the person you understand their point of view.
When they realise you understand them, they pressure you less.
4. Don’t run away.
Life isn’t like it is in the movies.
5. You don’t need to solve the other person’s problem.
If you do, there will be more pressure on you to be the solution.
6. You are not obligated to answer all questions.
Sometimes, people ask you questions to manipulate you.
7. Ensure your question is answered.
People are good at dodging questions, and most of the time they don’t realise it. Don’t let them get away with it.
8. Don’t be a citizen of Wimp City.
Are you a ‘sorry’?
9. Don’t be an ‘Are you sure?’.
Who is afraid of being a burden?
10. Don’t be a ‘Maybe’.
Have you ever said to a salesperson, “Maybe later?”
11. Get rid of the ums & ers.
Speak like you know what you are talking about.
12. Ask why.
Don’t waste your time trying to mind-read.
13. Ask for help.
That’s one good way to take responsibility for yourself.
14. Learn to say ‘no’.
We are taught to be compliant and co-operative. But that can be a problem.
15. Ask for something in return.
Favours are not tradeable commodities.