Not long ago I met up with a friend for coffee. We hadn’t seen each other for a few months, so it was a great opportunity to reconnect with each other. At one point I got up to grab something and on my way back to the table she said these words:
“You look great, you’ve lost weight.”
Isn’t that nice? Do you know what my response was? “No I haven’t.” Isn’t that terrible. Truly it’s terrible, regardless of it’s truth.
When I look back at my track record of accepting compliments, I’m abysmal. That doesn’t say anything about the people giving them, it says everything about the receiver – ME! Have you done this, do you struggle with accepting compliments? You see there is a really simple way to deal with this – say THANK YOU. Here’s the thing, people see you differently than you see yourself, but if you started to see yourself through their eyes – WOW! We are our own worst critics, but the moment that you start living a life of gratitude, internally and externally, you will start to be able to see those visions of yourself that others are seeing.
Thank you isn’t a hard word, and there doesn’t have to be any qualifiers attached. It doesn’t have to be “Thank you, but I haven’t lost weight”.
I was bad at this in my previous career too. Often what would happen is my boss, or some other higher up, would tell me what a great job I had done on a project. Awesome, right? Validation for the countless hours that I had put into something. Do you know what I would say? “It was all my team.” This may have been true. It may be true that my team did all the work, but chances are they did it under my direction and leadership, and by stating that it was all my team I devalued myself. Which possibly led those higher ups to wonder what on earth I was doing every day if my team did all of the work.
It’s important to give credit to the people on your team. But there is a way of doing this without devaluing yourself. “Thank you. We are especially proud of the …. I’ve seen incredible growth on my team. In particular Lucy, who did this …. element of the project.” Doesn’t that sound better. It keeps your value while lifting your team up.
Why do we suck at thank you?
There is the impostor syndrome, that Sheryl Sandberg brought to our attention through her bestseller – “Lean In”. That feeling that at some point people are going to figure you out, that you don’t actually belong in the role you are in, that you aren’t good enough, that you are a phony. This lack of confidence deteriorates our ability to accept the compliment. Then add the desire to deflect attention to your skills, value, worth, looks, in order to ensure that no one figures you out. It’s a complex little world that we tend to weave for ourselves. But I have news for you:
Those people around you, the ones who are complimenting you, whether your appearance, your work, your value – they actually believe it. Most people actually are genuine!
Gasp! I know right. So next time someone compliments you, tells you what a great job you’ve done, or comments on your incredible value, take a beat, step back and say “Thank you.” Do this a few times, and you might even start to believe it yourself.
I want to hear from you! What are some of the ways that you battle the impostor syndrome?
For more on this and other personal and professional growth topics, join the Mind Set Growth Zone for free resources to kick-start your growth. In this week’s Growth Zone you will receive a free gratitude worksheet.