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  • Writer's pictureBecci

The Art of Accepting Compliments or 'How to Embrace your Girlboss'

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

I started my blog by writing about the constant apologizing and belittling we are doing as women, and that I am doing as an individual in particular. Looking back at recent interactions in my life and what I’ve written in September, it turns out that I still have a lot of growing to do in that area that I want to elaborate a bit on here:

Last month, I had a mid-term review at my internship. I sat down with my supervisor to give and receive feedback to see if anything could be improved in the working relationship at the office. The feedback I received was outstandingly positive. I left the meeting on the highest of highs, immediately texting my mum and a couple of friends about the great feedback I received. In the couple of weeks before the feedback, I had noticed that my work ethics were suffering a little bit because I felt that a lot of things I did and worked on remained unseen by the people in charge and that I was not receiving enough gratification for the amount of effort I put into my tasks (for my liking at least). However, I was so wrong: my supervisor had apparently noticed it all and did not shy away from letting me know in that meeting.


Yet, when the immediate joy from receiving such positive feedback started to decrease, I noticed what else had been going on in the meeting. During the conversation I had often tried to belittle myself, to make excuses for my positive behavior and to justify why I was acting in a certain way.

In the meeting I was for example told by my supervisor that I had great leadership potential, something which truly spoke to me since it is one of my aspirations - yet I later observed how I constantly mentioned in the meeting that I could be too ‘bossy’. So dear feminist self – I must apologize to you here: I loaded this adjective with as much negativity as it so often comes with when applied to describe girls. By this point, I have probably read more than 30 books that mentioned how being called ‘bossy’ as a woman is often resentfully meant derogatively, and how women should never ever ever try to put themselves down by calling themselves (or other women) that. But reading about the harms of the negative connotations of the word is obviously easier than acting upon your knowledge, I suppose.

I think my supervisor deserves a lot of credit for calling me out on this politely. While we talked, she even told me on the spot that she did not want to say I was bossy, and that I should not call myself that either. I think supervisors, (or any women in leadings roles) have a big exemplary function here. Meeting and growing up with strong women who have not shied away from taking a leadership position have had a huge influence on my life and my aspirations. And I believe women complimenting women about their leadership skills instead of putting them down by calling them ‘bossy’ can change the current working environment for all women for the better.

It will help young women like myself to stop apologizing for what they are good at. Because the fact is: I know I was and still am doing a good job. I was feeling confident about my work. I could even tell myself that I was doing well. But the moment someone else (in this case my supervisor) said the same things, I felt awkward, uncomfortable and the good old impostor syndrome was back at it. I sit there and cannot accept the compliment, even though the compliment was all I wanted.


This being the new year and all, and even though I told myself I will not make any of those classic New Year Resolutions that work until the end of January at best, I am promising to myself (sort of as an apology for calling myself bossy) that I will work on not apologizing for something I did well. And I am set out to look for strategies that can help me with this. So if you know how to help a struggling woman trying to manifest her strengths better, send me a message, mail or leave a comment below.



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