The Bitch Slap: Self-Deprecation is Crap

bitch slap say thank youLearn. To Take. A Fucking. Compliment.

There’s where we’ll begin this Monday morning.

We’re raised to be polite, to compliment people and offer congratulations on a job well-done. We’re told to say please and thank you, respect our elders and never look a gift horse in the mouth.

When are we taught to be insulting towards people being kind to us?

I’m completely exhausted with people who, when offered congratulations, offer a quick thanks and then proceed to pick themselves apart with self-deprecating remarks. Here’s the rub: it’s insulting. It’s insulting to me and everyone else who takes the time out of their day to offer you recognition for your achievements.

A quick conversation on Twitter yesterday brought me someone who was raised to equate accepting a compliment as arrogant.

Accepting a compliment isn’t arrogant. To believe you don’t deserve one IS. You’re not above thanks or the ability to bask in a moment earned. You’re not above respecting the person standing in front of you, at the other end of an email or writing a blog comment. It takes only a moment to say thank you.

There doesn’t have to be a qualifier following. It goes like this:

Person A: “Hey! That rocked – congrats!”

Person B: “Thank so much. I appreciate it.”

So this Monday, enough with the self-deprecating bullshit, OK? If someone tells you congratulations, smile. Accept it. Say thank you. Respect the person who’s taken their time to help you celebrate a victory no matter how big or small that victory might seem to you. When you have a victory, remind yourself that there are thousands of people out in the world who would kill for a single triumph.

So embrace your triumph. And maybe your triumph is learning how to accept a compliment. It’s taken me years, but each day, I get better. My next goal is to get better at sharing my triumphs and helping others have more. Self-deprecation is insulting – to you, to those who care about you and even those who don’t know you from Adam or Eve but take the time to recognize what you’ve accomplished.

Quit being a dick. Leave self-deprecation to the stand-up comedians. You’ve been slapped.

60 comments
Alex911t
Alex911t

I believe what the author is talking about is what we call in this day and age as "modesty", congratulations author, you learned a new word!  Now thank me because I gave you a compliment.  

just some guy
just some guy

Well, some of us who prefer to be self-deprecating have learned to not even let other people know about those so-called "compliment worthy" things that might happen to us. That way it doesn't have to be acknowledged, and no one has to feel bad when we fail to accept a compliment correctly...and furthermore why does there have to be only one way, "the right way", to accept a compliment. P.S. the worst is when other people like to spread someone's good news around...it is embarrassing.

Flip Side
Flip Side

This kind of thing is very relative. You may see a guy preforming who has a talent in a field you don't fully understand and complement them for it. The guy preforming probably has been exposed to people who are far better and from their perspective it just would not be right to accept a compliment without acknowledging that. From this perspective to get mad at their self-deprecating remarks would be arrogant in that you're acting as if you know better then the one with talent in that specific field what is worthy to complement.

Nick Rapson
Nick Rapson

Oh, the number of people that I could relate this to! Trouble is, particularly in this country (the UK) people almost seem indoctrinated in to not accepting compliments / congratulations. A lot of it comes from the phasing out of competition in schools - for example: Sports Day used to be about having fun, everyone doing their best and a lot of friendly rivalry. I was amazed when I attended my son's first Sports Day a few years back now where the kids weren't scored, nobody won certain events, etc. It wasn't so much that they weren't accepting congrats, it was that the reason for the congrats themselves were being taken away from them. I'm totally with you on the whole "self-deprecation is insulting" thing. It's not funny, it's not clever. An ex-partner of mine used to question every compliment I ever paid her. So I stopped. I was tired of having what I said be disregarded so casually. "He never compliments me" is actually Item 3 on the list of reasons she gave to my mother for the break-up. Yeah, she documented it for me. I did consider complimenting her on her initiative but then she took to sarcasm in much the same way she took to compliments. Oh well!

Pullyourheadoutofyourass
Pullyourheadoutofyourass

Well, aren't we a self-righteous piece of shit. What right do you have to tell other people how they should live their life? I'll tell you, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT. Just because people are not like you, or think the way you do, or agree with every idea think is worthwhile, is no reason to think you can berate them. Not everybody is a sheep that will follow you blindly, unlike the people who actually agree with your viewpoint.

Info
Info

From a psychological angle... I found an article of a psychologist on psychopaths and how self-deprecation can be part of a psychopaths charm at times - yes, leave it to the stand-ups. Nothing wrong with some modesty also.

Tuomo Salo1972
Tuomo Salo1972

But what if the self-deprecation is based on a fear of a negative future scenario - like you want to avoid being called arrogant in a later discussion on the same issue? Example: B has run a 4-hour marathon. A: You're in awesome shape. B: That's not true, people run 2-hour marathons. Later it turns out there's a 2.30 marathon runner in the same table. B has avoided being a jerk by denying his awesomeness. (Of course things like this rarely happen but B wants to have a peace of mind of not being accused of being a jerk and thus consistently wants to make people aware he knows how good he actually is. Consistent self-deprecating equals consistent peace of mind.)

The Redhead
The Redhead

See? All it takes is a friendly gesture. Lock that Twitter shit down. Change your password every 30 days. And forgive me for jumping to conclusions - my DM inbox is so full of crap from the spamming masses that I have a Zero Tolerance policy. I try to respond to every message I receive and DM crap kills my flow.Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for stopping by!

jamescampbell
jamescampbell

I would like to say thanks for a great article. Now how about you unblock me on twitter. I was the victim of a scam, I would never intentionally dm you bogus free iPad crap. I am sending you a jump to conclusions mat.

Elizabeth Barrett
Elizabeth Barrett

Love a girl - sorry, bitch - who speaks the truth. Well written!

Me
Me

Ooo, Baby! I like being slapped!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Take your purchases from the Gun Show home and smile :)

mephistoME
mephistoME

So, we sometimes don't even realize we do this. A friend, female, said to me recently "Man you're getting some guns, can tell you've been working out." My immediate reaction? "Now if I can get some abs."

Joe
Joe

YES! Glad to be of service!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You've inspired a post: "It's a FUCKING TIE!" Love it, Joe - thanks for the Kevin story!

Joe
Joe

Kevin is a former client who demonstrated his insecurities by yelling at women in his department, the fact that he was surrounded by mostly women (very sexist guy) who were much smarter than him really pissed him off. I would witness him being verbally degrading to them and when he did compliment them he did it in a back handed manner. I also observed that he didn't know how to take a compliment- classic example of what you mentioned here. He was a nervous wreck, buckled in discussions with others who were not under him (men and women). I saw Kevin at a Christmas party 2 years ago and complimented him on his tie, I was amazed at how self depreciating he was over the compliment...it was a fucking tie! Not his masterpiece or solution to cure cancer, just the damn tie he was wearing. That reaffirmed my conclusions that Kevin had no balls. A devil wannabe with no balls. Sounds like a great animated short story!

Megan Carpenter
Megan Carpenter

Thank you! Always nice to be here, even if I don't always say anything.

The Redhead
The Redhead

C'mon, Michael...grow a pair of "thank you" balls :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Well, perhaps she wasn't complimenting you. She was envious. We always tend to be attracted to things different than what we know. I'm very glad she didn't ultimately scalp you in the schoolyard.Maybe the confusion between a compliment and a comment made out of envy is why you didn't feel like it was genuine. Now, if she'd simply said, "You have beautiful hair, Amy" I think a thank you would suffice.If she said, "I'd do anything for your hair," that's not really a compliment. Depending on mental stability issues, it's potentially a threat :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Megan, you're always welcome. Always great to see you stop by :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I really should get some pamphlets printed-up.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Ummm...yes - what YOU said. (who's Kevin?) O.o

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm glad I provided a GOOD reminder. See? Not all bitch slappin' is bad :)

Susan Silver
Susan Silver

Thanks, this is a good reminder to treasure the compliments I get.

Joe
Joe

Good commentary! If you're not going to accept a compliment, you feel like you're not worthy. If you feel like you're not worthy, you may as well follow up the self d-depreciating comment with "that's cause my name's Kevin and I have no balls."

Carole
Carole

Great post! I've always thought that people who had to dig their way out of a compliment were weenies, but it hadn't occurred to me that it's an insult to the giver. Maybe next time it happens, I'll just give 'em your article! Your explanation is so much more "colorful" than anything I could ever say!

Megan Carpenter
Megan Carpenter

You always seem to hit right on what I need at the moment. I'm horrible about taking compliments, and actually had a friend call me out on it a while back. I've gotten a little better about it, but hearing your point, "You’re not above thanks or the ability to bask in a moment earned." puts it in a different light. I had never thought of it as seeing myself being better than everyone else. Thanks for the wake-up slap lady!!!

Amy
Amy

Why is believing you don't deserve a compliment arrogant? When I don't believe I deserve a compliment it isn't because I think I'm above it. It's because I truly don't think whatever it is is good enough. I remember once I had a classmate who told me she would trade my hair for hers and my reaction was shock and confusion. I had plain, straight, black hair. She had a pretty blonde bob! WTF?

Tony Teegarden
Tony Teegarden

Don't you apologize at all. The world needs more excited people ;-)

Michael Fierro
Michael Fierro

Yeah, I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. I am very guilty of doing that. Actually, I don't think I've ever taken a straight compliment. Except for maybe at work, from someone much higher up the org chart than me.I don't wanna quote sappy Chicago lyrics, but that is a hard habit to break. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Game, set, match, BITCHES! Bring it, Tony :) WOOOO! (sorry - I get excited sometimes)

Tony Teegarden
Tony Teegarden

Awesome point. It's clear to me when someone can't take a compliment or tend to tell you, "Oh it was nothing really," it's a form of self resistance or low self esteem. They think minimally of themselves. Sure it's rude, sure it's selfish and sure it's up to us to make them aware of it. Game on.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Sure:Person A: "Hey Erika - kickass job on making Social Mouth's *Seven Examples of Kickass Personal Branding* list. That's awesome."Erika: "Thanks. But there are so many other people who should be on that list. I'm really nobody."My words SHOULD be: "Hey! Thanks so much. It's a real honor and I'm in such great company on that list! I'm flattered."or"Thank you."Does that help?

Michael Fierro
Michael Fierro

Can you give an example of being self-deprecating?

The Redhead
The Redhead

Lots of four-letter words. Like poop, teas, hats, cats, dogs, crud, shiv and plus. For example ;-)

Liz S
Liz S

Embrace is a four letter word sometimes. Slap is too!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Just let the door go when they're right in the middle of it. That'll learn 'em :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Great point. Let's take it off autopilot and put it back on the right wavelength :)

John Morlan
John Morlan

This is something I've noticed too. I love to give compliments and a few pleases and thankyous as well. Never thought about the arrogant point but it's true. Thanks for your much-needed slap to those arrogant s.o.b.'sAnother pet peeve of mine is when holding a door for someone and they walk by without saying thank you - geez, what's that all about?

canoelover
canoelover

I call it self-defecation. Saying "thank you" and meaning it is a lost art. Sorta like "I'm sorry" or "I made a mistake." Instead it's "Mistakes were made." Rumsfeldian horseshit.

Shauna Stacy
Shauna Stacy

What a great point... I never thought about self-deprecation as arrogance but it totally is! By dismissing a compliment, you're dismissing the compliment giver as if his or her opinion or observation does not count.Solid stuff! I'm officially addicted to your posts :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

It's understandable - but taking the steps to believe that you DESERVE compliments...that's huge :) And no, reprogramming doesn't happen overnight. I'm in the middle of 37 years of work. That's about to turn into 38 here quite soon. Enjoy the journey.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Agreed. But then again, some people aren't as good as putting sugar in coffee as you are ;-)

Jeff Harbert
Jeff Harbert

I admit, I do the self-deprecating thing occasionally. It depends on who's paying me the compliment, and for what. Sometimes people gush when I've done the equivalent of adding sugar to coffee. That's when I bring out the, "It was nothing. REALLY."On the other hand, if I'm paid what I feel is a well-deserved compliment for doing something really cool by someone who actually understands what I did, self-deprecation can bite me.

The Redhead
The Redhead

YES! It's effing EASY! Couldn't have said it better myself :)

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