Why Compliments Are Scary

26 11 2013

Scared senior womanLet’s face it, fellow entrepreneurs… as much as we love a good compliment, there’s a little something scary about each pat on the back.

Why? Because, for motivated people, a compliment is as good as an expectation. And expectations bring out some of the more… interesting… facets of our success-driven personalities.

Let’s have a look at a few of these, and see how we can kick the “scare factor” to the curb:

“Entrepreneur” and “perfectionist” could almost be used interchangeably for as often as one is associated with the other. When a perfectionist receives a compliment, we turn the internal pressure on HIGH to recreate that optimal scenario over and over again. It’s a guaranteed recipe for self-condemnation when top performance is not repeatedly met without fail, and also a quick way to give yourself the compliment creeps!

Resolution: Make a paradigm shift! The next time a compliment brightens your doorstep, respond with “thank you!” and MOVE ON. The longer we linger over feedback – good OR bad – the more likely we are to be distracted from our main purpose. It’s like having your head turned by an appreciative whistle… and then walking into a light pole. Stay focused on your fundamental goals – compliment-based goals are pure distraction.

We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without having the wherewithal to raise a few (hundred) bars. But this also takes perfectionist tendencies to a new level – where entrepreneurs feel an obligation to not only meet, but EXCEED compliment-born expectations. When we’ve just achieved something awesome, that next step up can feel mighty daunting.

Resolution: Outstanding performance is bound to happen. The trick for not allowing it to prematurely inflate your business expectations is to already HAVE business expectations. If you know where you’re going and how you intend to get there, bars can be raised at a pace that’s healthy for your business, rather than with every wayward compliment.

Entrepreneurs are classic over-analyzers – highly skilled at mental games. Comes in handy when we’re thinking ahead to our next move or anticipating the needs of our clients. But fright sets in when the analysis morphs into paranoia: “If I was complimented on THIS, then was THAT not worthy of a compliment?” or “Was that compliment on the level?” or “Does this person want something from me?”

Resolution: Take compliments at face value. Whether or not a comment carries hidden undertones, trying to guess what’s taking place in another person’s mind is a massive waste of our precious time. Most compliments are just what they appear to be – a well-earned kudos. And if they’re not? Trust me, the compliment-er will eventually make their point in a less obtuse manner.

And what if we’re awash in compliments… about something we don’t really want to do? You might, for example, be renowned for your culinary skills, when you’d far rather be SELLING cookware. This is one of the very scariest compliment scenarios. If everyone thinks you’re so good at cooking, the pressure to do just that can be CRUSHING. You can even begin to doubt your own desires.

Resolution: This is where an internal heart-to-heart becomes your guiding beacon. You can become compliment-worthy at ANYTHING, if you’re willing to give it enough effort. Skills can be learned. Passion cannot. Appreciate the positive feedback, but don’t let it shake you from your true life’s work.

You’ve been excellent readers, and I congratulate you for your savvy choice in reading material. Happy Thanksgiving, my cyberspace friends!

“I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.”  ~ Mark Twain

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

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