Deflecting Compliments (Like a Ninja)


Ninja Thank You - sig


Why do I apologize for myself?

This goes so far beyond not being able to take a compliment, I can’t even see the coastline anymore. I’m floating out there in the vast sea of self-deprecation. Clinging desperately to a belittlement buoy.

I actually get defensive when someone says something nice.

It’s ludicrous.

Last week, I was minding my own business, milling around a store, when a clerk grabbed my hand (because girls can do that—it’s weird) and said, “Oh! I love your nails!”

Weapons at the ready, I started my self-defense.

“Oh! I only did that for the summer solstice, I mean…my kids…it’s like a fairy thing, sort of…it’s a fun…” By then, she had let go of my hand and was backing away nodding. And no wonder.

I have an inability to accept compliments. But this need to make excuses for pretty much everything I am—from my clothes to my hair to my voice to, apparently, my fingernail polish—this has got to stop.

It’s a seemingly simple fix because, really, all I need to do is smile and say “Thank you”.

But when I bring out my sparring swords, we have a problem.


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


It’s bad enough to become self-deprecating when someone insults you but, when given a compliment, it’s truly bizarre. How do you react when someone gives you a compliment? Have you ever gone so far as to make excuses for yourself?

Can you take a compliment? (If so, is this something you developed later in life or something you’ve always been able to do? I’m wicked curious about this.)


63 thoughts on “Deflecting Compliments (Like a Ninja)

  1. When I’m complimented, I say thank you ( and blush ) and smile because I recognize that someone’s being nice and so then I try to compliment back to a greater degree because I want to be the nicest person in the room, and usually that fails because I wind up saying something stupid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True. Someone is being nice. That is something to be thankful for. Perhaps I’ll focus on that until I can start accepting compliments more gracefully. Oh! I do the compliment-them-back thing, too. 😀 It’s an ugly business, isn’t it? I’m sorry but thanks for that visual. I needed the laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Of course it’s all about ego. Mine is planet-sized so it is easy to accept praise as divinely deserved and, being a good winner in the lottery of life I accept it gratefully and gracefully, implicitly in the slightly condescending way I look down my nose acknowledging their unfortunate but congenital inadequacies. I’m also full of BS and wind.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Which planet? Just out of curiosity. I mean, a Mercury-sized ego would be more acceptable than, say, a Saturn or Jupiter-sized one.

      Happy to hear you will be so grateful and graceful as you look down your nose at me when I say how wonderful your writing is and so forth. (It IS feeling a bit windy in here…)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I sometimes have a problem with this. I find it easier to take a compliment if it isn’t about me physcially. I don’t get comments from strangers about my appearance so I’m not really sure how I would react to that…and I imagine that women get compliments (from both sexes) more regularly than men anyway in regards to physical appearance.

    I have learned to be more comfortable with compliments that relate to my writing or an action I have taken…but there is still a necessity on some level to let people know that I don’t think my actions or writing are superior to anyone else. Especially in the realm of poetry because those words come from the heart directly…and I don’t think I can ever say my heart Speaks better than yours.

    But I will say this, that you are a wonderful writer, an amazing friend and a beautiful woman. 🙂 And I am happy to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re probably right about the gender compliment thing. I’m sure there’s a study somewhere. You’ve got me thinking if it’s only my physical appearance (or more so) that gets me so defensive.

      I’m glad you’ve gotten more comfortable with the writing compliments because you are a talented poet. I do understand, though, what you mean about letting others know in some way that you appreciate it but don’t think you’re better than them. But. There is a difference between being humble and being apologetic. That is my problem.

      And, last but not least, thank you very much, my friend, for the compliment. ❤ (I'm happy to know you, too.) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sarah, I was the same, always on the defensive, especially with compliments. Until someone pointed this out and that all I needed to say was a simple ‘thank you’! Blimey, made my life easier and others far less nervous!

    Liked by 2 people

    • The nail polish was vivid! (Sparkly pink and purple on alternating nails.) But, yes, it was…uncomfortable. Glad you’ve gotten better about this but it makes me wonder why we have to work on things like this. Different reasons for each person, I’m sure. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It depends. I maintain a Geoff sized ego at my day job as part of my office persona and accept them there with ease, but outside of the office? I guess it depends on the compliment and who is giving it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Easier said than done, but try to see it another way. Would you reject a present that someone wants to give you? Would you reject a beautiful flower that someone says is particularly for you? They are gifting you through words. And how would that person feel if you shunted that flower or present back at them? I have learnt that you can offend by not accepting a compliment; it’s as much about the giving as it is about the receiving. I feel really good when I have something nice to say to someone- it makes me a better person, my day is better and I am glad for it. With regards to whether you feel deserve compliments? You do. Perhaps accept the gift and keep the compliment in a ‘holding station’ in your thoughts. Eventually, it will filter through. Truth has a way of finding its way home.
    Never said it was easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! It’s a gift, really. A word gift. 🙂 And, no, I wouldn’t reject a present no matter what it was (unless, you know, it was a spider or something which would just be weird). I really need to work on the receiving part of that give-and-take. Perhaps it IS a feeling of whether or not I feel I deserve the compliment. That’s sad. I do like the thought of your “holding station”. Beautiful. Thank you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The only time i hate compliments is when creepy guys hit on me. Or yes people grabbing you in stores can get weird as strangers touching me isn’t my thing. But you’re a wonderful writer (say thank you) hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I’ve learnt to say thank you, but I think it’s all right to recognise that some compliments feel more welcome than others – over here, thanks to our cultural restraint, and the state of my nails, I’d be very surprised and unhappy if someone grabbed my hand, but as I get older I’m more inclined to verbally accost strangers with compliments, sometimes to an embarrassing extent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know…that’s the thing. “some compliments feel more welcome than others…” So true. Haha! Verbally accosting strangers with compliments. I do that, too. What is up with that? Well, good to hear you’ve learned to just appreciate and say thank you when complimented. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to be quite embarrassed when someone complimented me and, for some reason, I would always try to downplay it. But then I started working for a new boss and he was marvelous at accepting compliments. He would say, “Why, thank you (name)!” He made it sound like the compliment made his entire day…truly the most gracious Receiver Of Compliments I’d ever met. I now try to follow his example, and it’s gotten much easier over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You reminded me of how I used to be. I was just like you, defending myself for the very thing I was being complimented for. It took a lot of years until I learned from reading many inspirational books that it’s just as important to receive as it is to give. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Over a decade ago, I picked up a book called “How to be a Lady”. You see, as a squirrel, I needed to make sure I blended in with the female humans. That’s off-topic though. In this book, it said, “A lady always replies to a compliment with a simple Thank You.”

    I’m sure there’s probably a page in the book that says “A lady does not allow her dog to chew on her ‘How to be a Lady’ book”. Probably. I think my dog ate that page though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found you! (How did you manage to end up in my spam? And now I AM offended because I had to sort through many unsavory comments. Eew… What did you do to end up with those creepers?)

      I think your comment is lovely and funny. Just like you. I don’t know why WordPress took offense at such a wonderful comment or why it would take such drastic measures. Also, you made a nice, neat link for me. 🙂 Thank you. (That’s me being a Lady. Although Ladies probably don’t point out that they’re being Ladies. So…)


  12. Oh, I have trouble with compliments as well, always try and give one back when I should just smile and say thank you. Hehe, we need to put our ninja throwing stars away and just accept them gracefully 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am sad. Apparently my comment got deleted (at least I no longer see it here saying awaiting approval). I do hope it was not for offending you. If I did, then I apologize.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What did you do!!! How did it get deleted? Now I’m dying of curiosity as to what you could have possibly said to offend me. (I really don’t think you could offend me. Did you call me a rude name? Did you swear? Was it a bad swear?)

      Ack! Don’t apologize! You’ll have to join our apology support group. 😉


  14. I’ve avoided that problem by making sure there’s nothing whatsoever that anybody can compliment me on.

    Seriously though, I’ve gotten better about accepting compliments with a “thanks,” and then shutting up.

    Or a “yes, yes…” like I want more. (Not true)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course! I mean, that would be the sensible thing to do. The most practical way to deflect those stinky compliments is a preemptive strike. You’re brilliant. (Here’s your cue to say, “Yes, yes…” complete with hand motion indicating more praise is required or you might have me beheaded or something.)


  15. I get you, Sarah! I’m just the same. (But a bit older). I had to train myself to take a deep breath and smile and say thank you, if someone complimented me, rather than looking at them suspiciously. It took conscious effort and gnashing of teeth, but I got there. Now, just because I accept a comment graciously does not mean I believe it… the same battle goes on, but now it’s inside my head…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! “rather than looking at them suspiciously.” I know that all too well. It’s not funny but it kinda is. It’s where the defensiveness comes from.

      I completely agree that learning to accept a compliment doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll believe it. We have work to do…

      P.S. Um. I don’t think you’re older. If so, I want to look as good as you when I grow up. 💖


  16. I used to be the same way. I was terrible at taking compliments. I began forcing myself to just say, ‘Thank you’ and leave it at that. And I’m not kidding I literally had to force myself and fight every instinct to say more. Eventually it got easier. Try it. It’ll be hard at first but it does become much easier with time and eventually you might even enjoy a good compliment once in a while. 😉


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