Why Does Praise Make Me Uncomfortable: Exploring the Psychology Behind Our Reactions

Praise is something that we all enjoy hearing. Whether it’s a compliment on our appearance, our work, or our personality, receiving recognition for something we’ve done well can be a boost to our confidence and self-esteem. However, for some people, praise can be uncomfortable and even anxiety-inducing. There can be a variety of reasons for this, from a fear of not living up to expectations to a reluctance to appear boastful. Unfortunately, this discomfort can also lead to missed opportunities for connection and recognition, as our automatic self-protection mechanisms prevent us from fully appreciating the positive feedback of others. In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why praise can be uncomfortable for some people, as well as strategies for learning to accept and appreciate compliments.

What Is Deflecting a Compliment?

Deflecting a compliment is a behavior that’s often seen in people who lack self-confidence or struggle with self-esteem issues. They may feel uncomfortable receiving praise, and they may believe that they don’t deserve it.

When someone compliments you, it’s important to acknowledge and accept the compliment graciously. This doesn’t mean that you’ve to agree with everything the person says, but it does mean that you should thank them and show appreciation for their kind words. Over time, this can lead to a breakdown in communication and trust.

They may have deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, which can make it difficult for them to accept positive feedback. In these cases, it may be helpful to work on building self-confidence and self-esteem, either through therapy or self-help strategies.

They don’t want to come across as too full of themselves, so they downplay their accomplishments or strengths. However, there’s a difference between being confident and being arrogant. Confident people are able to accept compliments without letting them go to their head, while arrogant people may use compliments to boost their already inflated egos.

The Psychological Reasons Behind Why People Deflect Compliments

People may deflect compliments due to various psychological reasons such as low self-esteem, fear of being judged, or a belief that accepting praise is arrogant. They may also feel uncomfortable with attention and prefer to remain humble or find it difficult to believe the compliment is genuine. Deflecting compliments can be a learned behavior that helps individuals protect their self-image and avoid feeling vulnerable.

Compliments have the power to make someone’s day, but have you ever wondered why? The psychology behind compliments shows us that a simple word of praise can activate reward centers in the brain, leading to improved learning and performance. Let’s take a deeper look at the science behind compliments and how they can benefit us all.

What Is the Psychology Behind Compliments?

Compliments also play a vital role in building and strengthening relationships. When we praise someone, we communicate to them that they’re valuable and appreciated, which can improve their self-esteem and sense of belonging. This positive feedback can also encourage and motivate individuals to continue striving for excellence, as they feel that their efforts are recognized and valued.

In order to be effective, compliments must also be tailored to the individual receiving them. People have different preferences and sensitivities when it comes to feedback, and what works well for one person may not be as effective for another. It’s important to take into account an individuals personality, communication style, and cultural background when giving compliments.

They can also motivate individuals to continue striving for excellence and achieve their goals.

Source: World Compliment Day: The Science Behind Praise

As we delve deeper into the psychology behind why men deflect compliments, it becomes clear that these reactions are deeply ingrained in social norms and gender roles. From the fear of appearing vulnerable to the perception of praise as a power play, there are many underlying factors that contribute to this behavior. In this article, we’ll explore some of these reasons and discuss how we can shift our perceptions of compliments to create a more positive and supportive culture.

Why Do Men Deflect Compliments?

Thus, they may be hesitant to accept compliments from anyone, regardless of their gender. Moreover, according to experts, men might deflect compliments because they’ve been taught not to reveal their vulnerabilities. Society often perceives vulnerability as a weakness, and men are expected to be strong and unemotional. Compliments could suggest that the person being praised isn’t invincible, leaving them feeling uncomfortable.

They’re often conditioned to think that they must always do better, be stronger and work harder. When someone praises them, they may worry that they aren’t living up to their own expectations. This can cause them to downplay the compliment or shift the conversation to a more comfortable topic, such as work or sports.

They may believe that they haven’t done anything extraordinary or that their accomplishments are simply a result of luck. Therefore, when someone compliments them, they may feel like a fraud or that they’re deceiving people. This can lead to them deflecting or denying the compliment so that they don’t get caught in a lie.

They may believe that others could become jealous if they perceive them as successful, causing them to avoid or deflect compliments. This suggests that men have internalized the notion that their success comes at a cost, leading them to downplay their own achievements.

It could be a result of societal expectations, impossibly high standards, a fear of being vulnerable, feeling undeserving, or not knowing how to respond. It’s important to remember that deflection doesn’t necessarily mean rejection. Men may still appreciate the compliment, even if they deflect it at first. A simple “thank you” or “I appreciate that” can go a long way in making someone feel valued and acknowledged.

It’s natural for us to enjoy receiving compliments from others, as it boosts our self-esteem and confidence. However, there are some instances when these apparent positive comments can make us feel uneasy or embarrassed, even leading to discomfort. This phenomenon is known as “cognitive dissonance” and refers to the mismatch between the words we hear and the way we perceive ourselves. Let’s delve deeper into this peculiar reaction to compliments and explore some ways to overcome it.

What Is It Called When Compliments Make You Uncomfortable?

You might receive a compliment, for instance, about your looks, talents, or contributions, but you don’t believe it to be true. You might even feel unworthy of the praise, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, shame, or guilt. Alternatively, you might perceive the person giving you the compliment as insincere or manipulative, which can make you question their motive. All of these doubts and uncertainties can create discomfort and self-doubt.

Another reason why compliments can make you uncomfortable is that they challenge your beliefs about the world. Maybe you grew up in an environment where praise was rare or only given conditionally. Maybe you were raised to be modest and humble and see compliments as a form of self-promotion or arrogance. Whatever your cultural norms and social conditioning, compliments can feel like a violation of your personal identity and values. They can make you feel as if you’re betraying your upbringing, or that you’re doing something wrong.

Some people are naturally modest and self-effacing, preferring to downplay their accomplishments and deflect praise onto others. Other people might be more competitive or perfectionistic, always striving for more and never feeling satisfied with what they’ve achieved. Still, others might struggle with low self-esteem or imposter syndrome, feeling like they don’t deserve success or recognition.

Accepting compliments with grace and gratitude can help you build your self-esteem, improve your relationships, and feel more confident in your abilities. If you find it difficult to accept compliments, try practicing positive affirmations, journaling, or seeking therapy to explore the underlying causes of your discomfort. With time and effort, you can learn to love yourself and accept the love and admiration of others.

Emotions can be difficult to manage and understand. Sometimes, we may find ourselves tearing up unexpectedly, especially in situations where we’re being praised. There are different reasons why this could happen, and it’s important to reflect on what these emotions mean to us. In this article, we will delve deeper into why some people tear up when they’re praised.

Why Do I Tear Up When Someone Praises Me?

Perhaps, you may have grown up in an environment where appreciation and encouragement were rare, so hearing someone praise you feels like a validation of your efforts and hard work, and thus, it evokes emotions and brings tears to your eyes. It’s also possible that you’ve been through difficult times where you didn’t have a support system or someone who believed in you. Alternatively, receiving praise for your accomplishments or actions may cause you to feel a sense of responsibility to continue to perform at a high level or exceed expectations, which can be overwhelming and lead to tears of joy, relief, or even pressure. Another factor could be social conditioning, where society has created this belief that crying is a sign of weakness, and so, when someone praises you, it makes you feel vulnerable, leading to tears as a natural response. However, it’s important to remember that showing emotions isn’t a weakness, and it’s healthy and normal to express yourself and cry when feeling moved.

How Self-Image Affects Emotional Responses to Praise

  • Self-image can affect how people respond emotionally to praise.
  • If someone has a negative self-image, they may feel unworthy of praise and not respond positively.
  • However, if someone has a positive self-image, they may feel validated and appreciated when they receive praise.
  • Therefore, it’s important to work on improving self-image in order to better receive and respond to praise.


We may fear accepting praise because we fear disappointing others if we don’t meet their expectations. Or, we may have a belief system that praises are insincere or disingenuous. Whatever the reason, recognizing and examining why we feel uncomfortable with praise is crucial to fostering healthy relationships, both personally and professionally. It takes courage to accept compliments, but by doing so, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to share in the joys and success of others, and to strengthen our connections with those around us. So, next time someone offers you praise, try to resist the urge to deflect or downplay it. Instead, take a deep breath, smile, and allow yourself to feel the warmth and positivity of their kind words.