This is the reason why some people feel embarrassed when given positive compliments.

Let’s assume your company takes a test, then a day after, your boss starts complaining about your coworker John, for how poor he did on the assignment. Your boss later turns to Mary, pointing out how wonderfully she did by contrast. Now, John is very ashamed for his ineptitude, but so is Mary too for being complimented. Have you ever wondered why sometimes compliments could be embarrassing just as ridicule?

Related media: How To Never Feel Embarrassed Again

Congratulations. Thank You!

Being given compliments is supposed to feel good, isn’t it? Of course, it is. But why do you sometimes feel embarrassed, or even start to have an anxiety attack? What is it good for? If you feel that kind words make you ashamed of your actions, then you’re not alone — nearly 70 percent of people associate positive compliments with embarrassment or discomfort.

Have you ever noticed that a single compliment could make you reject a gratitude? For instance, “I like your outfit!,” “Thanks, I really appreciate it!,” or how you avoid taking credits for a good work, even though you deserve it? “It wasn’t just me alone, it was a team effort.” Those are all examples of compliment anxiety rearing its head. Why does it happen?

First and foremost, a compliment causes disruption in our social interaction (only if you’re a narcissist). Generally, people don’t say positive things about themselves when socializing, and also not to disagree with other people. That’s what makes a compliment uncomfortable — either you can accept it, violating the first unspoken rule; or deny it, violating the second.

Uh! Please, No Thanks

Image: Shutterstock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

There’s also a social benefit of acting humble in response to a compliment. Oftentimes, the most appropriate response to a compliment is embarrassment, and that discomfort you feel was probably caused by the fact that you were not aware the compliment was coming your way. Sometimes you think the person is being disingenuous, and that can account for your discomfort — even causing your impostor syndrome. So, if you’re being complimented for something you’re insecure about, why are you embarrassed?

There’s another reason: the public part of being praised. Anxieties surrounding positive attention are well documented, and pretty easy to understand. Whenever someone compliments you, they’re not just saying good job, they’re also saying that they’ve been paying attention to you. Even if they approve of what you did, you might be thinking of what you did that caught their attention — or maybe you’re worrying about what they’ll be watching you do in the future, when you don’t do so well.

Oh! You Deserve It. *Blushing*

Let’s say you often face these anxiety attacks, relax, you’re not alone. It would be nice not to have minor panic attacks whenever you’re praised for your good work. Luckily, there are a few tips that could make your next compliments feel more uplifting and less embarrassing. According to Christopher Littlefield of the business consulting firm Acknowledgement Works, its important to realize that a compliment is as much about the giver as the receiver.

A compliment is basically the feedback of how your actions have affected the person given them to you — they’re not asking if you agree with that feedback or not — you just have to accept it. Rejecting it is just as throwing a gift back in their face! How rude! And if you feel alright with it, try asking them exactly what they liked about your work. That’s more polite than rejecting it.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Jun 08, 2019.



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