Why compliments break brains | The Oatmeal

I have long struggled with taking compliments in certain situations. Basically, the better I know someone, the more I consider them a friend, the harder it is to get a compliment from them. That's weird, but I've always felt it was at least a little universal. The latest Oatmeal comic confirms my suspicions, and neatly explains/encapsulates most of the emotions and oddities that come with being complimented far better than I'd have ever been able to describe them 👏

Some interesting points:

  • If compliments hit a "self-esteem nerve" (i.e. something you have deeply held, likely negative personal beliefs over, like weight or clothing or comedic ability) then your brain can struggle to accept them, for all the same reasons that providing facts to conspiracy theorists only entrenches their belief structure. Instead, it may just create a "useful" lie that allows both realities to coexist; "useful" because often it assumes the compliment is false and intended for some manipulative purpose. Sigh...
  • Public compliments that are referencing recent events are largely okay, but the longer the lag time between event and compliment, the more it is unexpected, and the greater the cognitive load it can produce.
  • Importantly, that transfers to the workplace, so whilst the whole "criticise privately, praise publicly" thing is useful, if the praise gap is too long it can leave the recipient burdened rather than benefitted. Worth considering 🤔

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  • I have long struggled with taking compliments&nbsp;<em>in certain situations</em>. Basically, the better I know someone, the more I consider them a friend, the harder it is to get a compliment from [&#8230;]
  • Murray Adcock.
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