Raise your hand if you’ve ever answered a compliment with something like “yeah, but…”
Got that hand in the air? You’re far from alone. For this month’s Year of Mental Health article at Geek & Sundry, Dr. B gets into the topic of compliments: how to respond to them, how to listen to them, and how to know when they really matter.
Something some of my colleagues and I talk about is what we informally call the yeahbuts. Basically, if someone hears something complimentary or kind about them, they respond with, “Yeah, but…” and then proceed to justify why that that compliment or kindness is wrong or not very important. It’s an umbrella term for a whole slew of psychological terms (e.g. minimizing or negative attribution bias). This is not an uncommon thing to hear from the people I work with, and they’re often not even aware they’re doing it.
That’s tip number one: be aware. Listen to yourself. If you find yourself frequently saying things like, “Yeah, but…” or, “Actually…” when you talk with other people, pay attention to what kinds of things they say right before you say it. There may be a pattern. It may be that you’re denying good things about you. Once you notice a pattern, you can more consciously try to change it, difficult as that might be.
Taking compliments isn’t always easy, but Dr. B has some tips for making it a little easier. While he’s at it, he explains why that’s a skill worth learning.