How did you respond the last time someone paid you a compliment? Did you smile and say thank you? Or did you look embarrassed, shuffle and mumble something about it not being good or your outfit being old? Chances are, it would have been the latter response. We (especially us Brits) are programmed to think that celebrating our achievements is arrogant or conceited. I would like to show you that bigging yourself up doesn’t have to mean having a big head.
Recently-published research reveals that psychologists have discovered that bullied children tend to use self-deprecating humour, making themselves the butt of their own jokes to try to amuse their classmates. Sadly, this just reinforces the negative view of them that the bullies hold and, inevitably, makes the bullying worse.
When you are grown-up, it is not just self-deprecating jokes that let us down. Many of us don’t know how to graciously accept a genuine compliment, or how to say what we are good at. This can drag us down and stop us doing what truly makes us happy, or follow the path that might lead to us achieving our dreams.
Timothy Gallwey, in his book The Inner Game of Stress talks about becoming the CEO of your own life. What if you had a Director of Public Relations on your own personal Board? Let’s say your company is called I Am Awesome PLC. Think about what they would say about a recent self-effacing comment you have made about yourself (and, therefore, your corporation). Chances are, they would be pretty frustrated with you and your self-sabotage. They would be encouraging, nay, creating opportunities to let the world know why, exactly, I Am Awesome PLC deserves its name.
No one likes a bragger and we all know lies will come back to bite us. This means your PR Director will be showing the world how good the CEO is at things they do already. For the sake of argument, this could include: coming up with creative ideas, copywriting, general knowledge, shopping and throwing together brightly-coloured yet non-clashing outfits. As we are a new corporation, we don’t yet have a big budget for this campaign. So, they spread the word by talking to the contacts they already have: their friends, family and work colleagues.
The CEO might not find their PR Director’s approach easy, as they think honesty is the best policy and don’t want their shareholders to be disappointed should they discover the shocking truth: they are not good at everything. They feel scared, to the point where they can feel the bile rising to their throat. Their tummy churns, flipping cartwheels. They would rather take cover and hide than put themselves out there. However, they take a leap of faith and follow their PR Director’s advice.
After a while, they realise that dazzling the world with their feats means the world need never know about those things the corporation has not yet mastered. Bit by bit, as the CEO exudes more confidence, the public learns that I Am Awesome PLC really does deserve its name and does not even notice the bits that aren’t quite in place yet. Those bits may never be ‘in place’, wherever that is and whatever that means and probably don’t matter, anyway.
Be kind and value yourself. Know what you are good at and celebrate it. Who cares that you are not good at everything? Everyone has unique skills to offer the world. Offer a huge smile and say ‘thank you’ when someone offers you a compliment. The next time someone asks you what you are good at, tell them. Take pride in it. If you are worried about sounding conceited, don’t. There are ways of articulating it so it doesn’t sound like bragging. Just give it a go.
A good way of steering clear of arrogance is by valuing others. It’s about giving as well as receiving. Thank you for reading my blog. It shows you have fabulous taste and are awesome, too.