Are you happy to accept compliments? How does it feel when someone not only recognises but acknowledges your positive qualities or efforts?

Some people cringe and others blush. Many don’t believe what they are hearing, and some even suspect the person saying the nice things of ulterior motives.

Successful and resilient people know how to accept compliments. The best way to do this when somebody says something positive about you is to reply by saying “Thank you”. You don’t have to self-justify or write-off the nice remark with something like “Yeah, I got it right, for once!”; “I don’t expect it’ll happen again”; or “It was a fluke, I’m useless really”.

Due modesty is an art and an appealing quality, but even the most modest person first has to accept the compliment before skilfully playing it down. Save this for later, when you have become more accustomed to accepting compliments. Being modest about your achievements does not mean writing yourself off as a no-hoper.

Step 1

The first step is developing the habit of giving sincere compliments. It may appear to be a small thing to offer genuine praise for others’ efforts, but it goes a long way. Think of how important recognition is to you (even if you are uncomfortable when it happens). Offer genuine compliments and you’ll begin to feel more comfortable when they come your way.

The key words here are ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’; avoid flattery and sycophancy and offer compliments only when you genuinely think they are deserved. Don’t overdo it and above all don’t use flattery to deflect attention from yourself.

Exercise: Count your successes

Here’s an exercise to help you become more at ease with what a tremendous person you are. You may not have noticed, but you have more successes than you do failures. Do this daily (the end of the day is best):

Review your day

Think through your day and identify as many successes as you can. A success is anything that went right. Small things count, this is not about saving the world or climbing mountains. Think of all the things you got right: getting to work on time; getting the kids ready for school; a helping gesture towards a colleague or neighbour; completing a task you’d set yourself; writing up your learning journal… anything and everything counts, as long as it worked for you. (If you have actually climbed a mountain you can, of course, add that too).

Write a list

Ignore the ‘Yes but’s’, qualifiers and dismissive excuses your mind will want to come up with. Ignore the failures too, this exercise is only about counting and acknowledging your successes.

Read the list and congratulate yourself

You succeed at dozens if not hundreds of things each day. Congratulations! You’ve started the process of re-educating yourself to recognise and accept about your successes.

Repeat this daily. As you do you’ll get better at focusing on what you got right, and you’ll be re-educating your mind to look out for success, rather than dwelling on failure and blame.