Accepting a Compliment

I’ve been taking a break from professional reading.  I have been picking a wide variety of books to read for fun.  I just finished Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rimes.  I’ll admit I picked the book because of the NPR interview with her I heard, not because I am a fan of TV shows (haven’t seen any of them). This fun book became a professional book because of one particular chapter.

In the book, Shonda Rimes describes a particular event where powerful successful women were announced with all of their successes and all of the women did one of three things.  They either looked down and made themselves smaller; shook their head; or laughed it off.  As she was describing how women tend to receive compliments, it was like she has been watching me for years.  I am guilty of denying praise; laughing uncomfortably and looking down; and shifting praise to others.

For example, I was talking with one of our literacy coaches and she said that I am the right person for my role.  When she said that I didn’t even say thank you, instead I started denying it and saying this person would be better at this role.  (As I wrote this, hundreds of other examples came to mind.)  I even struggle with accepting compliments from myself.   For example, I was reflecting on my year. Every time I listed a success, I found myself downplaying it or denying my role in it.

Rimes also discussed that as women we are socialized to respond this way.  I also think teachers are also taught to respond similarly.  As teachers, we are expected to be humble and not brag.  My former principal and I joked that neither of us could accept a compliment.  Right now I want you to think about the last compliment you received at school.  How did you respond?  One reason, I bring this up is we are models for our students.

Now, think about some of your students.   How do they receive a compliment or praise?  Are there students in your classroom that shut down after you pay them a compliment?

I bring this all up because if our compliments are dismissed frequently, after a while we may quit.  People will start feel less appreciated and soon you have culture issue.

So I encourage you to join you in my plan to get better:

  1. I will just say, “Thank you” to others.  My sister is an excellent model of this.  She learned this from one of her voice teachers who said “If you say anything other than thank you, then you are calling them a liar.”
  2. I will teach my children and students to just say, “Thank you.”  When you teach this skill, you giving them a  great skill.      
  3. I will create opportunities for others to just say, “Thank you.”  I want to celebrate the my colleagues.  They are bright, powerful, creative women and men.  I want them to know that they are and I am blessed to learn from them.
  4. I will own my accomplishments without adding but to the end.  I will continue to my journey to silence my worst critic and continue my journey of being a friend to myself.


2 thoughts on “Accepting a Compliment

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