Stop Deflecting

There’s a horrible habit that I’ve noticed that women practice on a regular basis, deflecting. Time and time again when compliments and praise are being handed out we suddenly become star running backs blocking tackles left and right on the way to snatching a cool 6 points…

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We don’t know how to accept compliments. We are the Queens of deflecting and downplaying what we’ve done, what we’re doing…even what we’re wearing. One of my male mentors pointed it out to me years ago at work. One of my female coworkers complimented me on my outfit and my immediate response was, “oh, this old thing?! I’ve had this forever.” Before the conversation went any further my mentor asked, “Why do women do that? Why don’t y’all just say thank you? She said she gave you a compliment; just say thank you.”

He was right, I should’ve just said thank you and graciously accepted the compliment rather than trying to downplay the value of my outfit. As time went on, I began to realize that not only do women routinely deflect the positive attention given to us, but that it’s really a bad habit that we ought to stop doing.

Many of us deflect because we have been socialized to believe that women should not be too upfront or too confident. Our displays of confidence often make people uncomfortable. We have been trained to deflect, to take the attention off of us and make it seem like the things that we accomplish are not that big of a deal. Well, the things that we accomplish are big deals. Those clients that we worked our butts off to sign, we deserve praise for that. Those epic events that we host, we should bask in their glory. It’s more than ok, it’s imperative, that we begin fully acknowledge and accept credit and praise for the work we do and things we accomplish.

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The compliments that we are deflecting are really the words of affirmation that we need to boost our confidence and encourage us to continue the work we are doing. If you want to excel, to be a leader, to be someone who has influence then you need to be confident and to have that confidence reinforced by others. Rather than blocking compliments we need to accept and internalize them so that they might have the positive affect that they are meant to have.

Now I’m not saying that in, instead of being overly bashful, you should be extra braggadocious and boastful. No, but you can and should humbly accept compliments and to acknowledge your accomplishments. It’s about putting our accomplishments in perspective; giving them their due without exaggerating their importance. The way that I have learned to remain humble while accepting compliments is that I believe and constantly remind myself that my Creator specially crafted me with the talents, opportunities, privileges and accomplishments that people are complimenting me on. I didn’t create the talents and opportunities so the compliments that I receive are really a reflection of what My Creator has done. For me it’s really about God getting the glory and me refusing the downplay the wonderful things that God allowed because it might make others uncomfortable or isn’t in line with a societal norm.

It’s also important to get into a habit of accepting compliments because people are watching you. Little girls are watching how you respond to compliments and achievements and are learning to behave the same way. If we want our girls to grow up to know that it’s ok to be a strong successful woman, they have to see women who believe just that. Men are also watching how you respond to compliments and forming their own opinions about you and women in general. If we want society and the men in it to become more comfortable with and accepting of the strong women that we are, we have to stop shrinking away from attention and compliments. Walk in confidence, accept compliments, acknowledge your accomplishments and let your light shine.  

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