Why You Need to Start Accepting Compliments for the Sake of Your Career

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Photo Source: @jsdaniel via Twenty20

Have you ever complimented a friend and had them deflect, saying something like, “This old thing? I’ve had it for years.”  Or, “Thanks but I need to get it cut.” It almost makes you feel lame for saying something so “ridiculous.”

We’re taught from a young age not to be boastful and as a result, we’ve had the whole accepting compliments thing beaten out of us. For me, it presented itself in the way I handled relationships in the early stages; God forbid I actually show or tell someone how much I liked them.

But then my acting teacher noticed something that changed everything for me. A male acting colleague and I were doing an improv scene study as husband and wife. He hugged me and told me he loved me. And I blushed. I BLUSHED!

After the scene ended, my teacher asked, “Do you have trouble accepting compliments?” I said I did. And so for the next six months, I worked on getting comfortable “being seen” in class. It seems so weird for an actor, right? Being seen?

But it’s oh-so-common. Maybe it shows up in acting class or when you make excuses as to why you’re not further along in your career. It’s sneaky like that.

One thing I love to do—aside from acting—is to teach other actors how to recognize, own, and lean into their talents. Not only does it help them accept the compliments they (rightfully) receive, it also helps them when it comes to tackling goals.

Let me show you how it works. Answer the following questions:

  • What’s one thing you’ve done for your career that you’re proud of?
  • What are your goals for your career?
  • What successes have you had outside of your acting career? These could be from 10 years ago or this morning.
  • Why do you consider them successes? What exactly did you do?

Think about the qualities that helped you achieve these successes. For example, let’s say your high school soccer team won state and you got MVP. Your qualities might be the ability to work well with others, listening, being coachable, working hard, practice, etc.

Now, choose one of your current goals. Brainstorm the ways you can apply those qualities to take action toward your goal today.  

As for accepting compliments, practice saying this: “I want to thank the Academy for this incredible award.” In that instance, I think it’d be OK to blush.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Heather Hiatt
Heather Hiatt is a working actor and founder of the Magnetic Actor Method which is a revolutionary program designed to help actors bust through what’s holding them back in their career, from the inside out. She helps actors believe in themselves, stop overthinking and connect to any character they need to play in a brand new way.
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