It's probably down to the fact that they come by me so sporadically that in the rare occasion that I do receive one, I find myself struggling to find the proper way to respond so I, umm, reject/deflect the compliment. I thought it was a humble & polite thing to do, in my foolhardy attempt to avoid appearing ujub, riak, or even takbur.
Little did I know how hurtful it can be to deny a compliment until I experienced it firsthand, when I'm the one extending the compliment and it gets rejected.
Hurts. So. Much.
To reject a compliment is to insult the compliment giver. When I tell you "Is that a new haircut I see? It's gorgeous!! Pixie cut looks really good on you!", and in response you say "Ugh what do you mean?? It's ugly, I regret cutting my hair in this style. Can't wait for my hair to grow back,", you're effectively saying that I have poor judgment & taste in the hair department. You're also simply dismissing the time I spent observing a quality in you & admiring your hair. And you're likely to speculate that I'm insincere.
Or when I see a really good photo of a building & compliment the photographer, the photographer goes all "This?? This is nothing, many people have taken even better photos of this building.". Even if he/she means well, that comeback is translated to me as "You obviously have very little knowledge in photography and don't know any good photographers. Pfshh.".
Or "You have really big round eyes!! So pretty!" and you say "No lah. I look like a damn owl. Wish I have smaller eyes.". Not only does that insult me (because in this scenario I would think you're just saying you want smaller eyes because I have sepet eyes.... Aip), that is also subtly disapproving the union of your parents DNA to make you, you. And when you really think about it, you sound like an ungrateful human being who spares no thought about the intricate processes that God work on to bring you into life. Oh no you di'int.
It's easy to fall into the self-deprecating trap, especially when we associate receiving compliments with being self absorbed or bragging. But it's even easier to just take a compliment the way it is with a Thank You and move along. It doesn't hurt to acknowledge your own flairs k. Don't downplay your own achievements. I think when I learn to receive compliments, I feel appreciated. It boosts my self esteem, and duh I sure as hell feel happy about it what's so wrong about that? I see compliments as doses of motivation, the extra push, that motivate me towards betterment. It's a healthy process so why aren't we allowing it for ourselves? Sometimes a little compliment turns my rough day around, without the compliment giver even knowing it.
So how about saying "You really think so? Thank you!!" to that haircut comment, and "Ahh that's really nice of you, thanks. But I think I still have a lot more to improve on." if you're the photographer, and "Weh thanks doh." to the eyes remark because there's nothing else you can do about your eyes. Haha. It's not rocket science, guys!! Say thanks, smile, end of story. If you're scared of going into hellfire for letting the compliment consume you, return it to Him by saying Alhamdulillah, for He is the one to bless you with those qualities & me with that sense of judgment.
It isn't easy peasy lemon squeezy even for me, but one way to acquaint myself with the art of receiving compliments, is to give compliments to other people. Try it. You'll never know when your little gesture might be the highlight of someone's day (or week) :)