WE WOULD LIKE TO THINK that we have a very generous culture.  And we pretty much do, in many respects.

But we struggle with receiving gifts, especially at the personal level.

We have lots of ways to deflect compliments and praise:

“Oh, it was nothing, really.”

“No problem.”

“It wasn’t me, it was …”

It’s almost as if receiving a compliment has created a problem!  I’m now obligated to think of an even bigger compliment, but that will quickly feel ridiculous.

So why is it that in a business context, we seem to be OK with seeking out the stroking of the company’s ego?  We call them “testimonials” and “reviews”, but it’s really just asking people to tell us why we’re great.  Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’re seeking this validation.

It’s because:

  • The company’s products and services are one step removed from our own fragile ego.
  • We tend separate personal compliments (or criticism) from someone talking about our products and services.

Some years ago, I had a very interesting emotional experience.  I wrote and published a book which had been a passion for a long time.  I was proud of the achievement, of course, but when there a bad online review I discovered I was remarkably sensitive because this was “my baby.”  I had so much personally invested that a criticism of the book became a criticism of me personally.

I’ve since learned that it’s healthy to separate my business from my personal ego.  Not because it’s easier to deflect criticism and compliments, but because the business actually IS a different entity.  People relate to my services different than they do to me personally.

But I should still be gracious about receiving any honest feedback.

The proper phrase is: “Thank you.  I appreciate that.”