We continue with a look at ways to boost confidence with directive #3. (HAT TIP: I found this list on the Twitter feed Health & Wellness.)

Learn to accept compliments

Today we get into territory that will make some people really squirm. For people that are in the most dire need of a boost in confidence find it hard to identify their strengths and are very adept at identifying their weaknesses. But what can be even harder than any of those things is accepting a compliment. Let’s get right to the obvious scenario: Someone has just looked at you and said something very nice about you. It could be anything – your attire, a recent accomplishment, how you handled a challenge, your attitude, something you did for someone else, anything. What happens now? Let’s look at 2 things to not do, and 2 things to do.

Don’t think. Dude, what is wrong with you, you may react. One of my favorite lines in the movie Bull Durham was when Crash confronted Nuke during their first meeting, and ended up punching him and knocking him down. He said, “My name’s Crash Davis, I’m your new catcher, and you just got lesson #1 – don’t think. You can only hurt the ballclub.” What happens when we receive a compliment? Often we want to talk the complimenting person out of it. We marginalize (it wasn’t that big a deal), minimalize (it was the right thing to do), or outright reject (I’m not that good). We have been listening to the negative voices for so long, when we hear something positive, it can’t be genuine – it has to be wrong, there has to be a catch, something. By doing this, we de-value ourselves and disrespect whoever gave the compliment.

Don’t argue. You know what I mean here. This is where you point out a weakness, attribute the compliment to luck, or putting yourself down in some way. Just leave it be. If you’re like me, and actually enjoy appropriate arguments, realize this isn’t one of them. You’ll have plenty of time and issues to debate. When someone give you a compliment, debating it is bad for everyone.

Do Acknowledge. Most of us are eager to avoid the appearance of conceit, and are thus tempted to deflect or reject the compliment. That’s not true humility, and accepting a compliment is not true conceit. You want to see true conceit? Eventually, you will encounter someone that gives him/herself a compliment (or a long string of them), without prompting from anything other than a change in wind direction. That’s conceit. Saying “thank you; I appreciate that” when someone says something nice to you is not.

Do Use Proper Body Language. This one may be the most challenging, and will require some practice. If you struggle to accept compliments, you will likely be tempted to look at the ground, take a step back, or cross your arms. These are as destructive as the verbal contradictions we discussed earlier. Instead, maintain eye contact, lean forward a bit, and use a warm facial expression.

You have probably noticed that most of the things in this journey to building confidence require effort and practice to master. That’s good – think of it as exercise for the brain. We know exercise for the body has many benefits. It does for the mind as well.

Next up, we will attempt to tackle another negative and turn it into a positive.

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