Can a person be TOO modest?

Is there such a thing? When in a situation that could result in praise toward myself, I try to steer it in a different direction before it can go that way.

I don’t like compliments about my appearance either, especially when other people are listening. Am I headed for destruction here?

There’s a certain member of this message board (who I won’t name) that I believe is too modest and humble, to an extent that (I believe) goes beyond self-effacing and actually starts to erode the person’s self-esteem and confidence.

Yes, it is possible to be too modest, but it’s still probably better (or at least more socially acceptable) than erring in the other direction.

If it weren’t for false modesty, I wouldn’t have any at all.

I don’t mind compliments, but they do make me feel self-conscious.

Mostly because I’m shy, and I don’t like too much attention drawn to myself.

I…my post really wan’t that interesting.

Inappropriate modesty is often just another form of unbridled egocentrism. Refusal to accept one’s character assets is as silly as refusing to accept one’s character defects.

You can definitely be too modest. I think I would have gone further faster at work if I had not had the habit of steering people away from praising me. There were many times when I did not take credit for things, or when I had chances to promote myself but did not because of modesty–I refused to brag. As a direct result, it took a lucky break for me to get noticed and promoted. At some point it clicked in my head that even if I’m not comfortable with it, I have to accept praise and really play up my strengths or I will not get my dues. At work at least.

I don’t understand my impulse to deny positive attention. It makes me uncomfortable so I either negate it in my own mind but pretend to be flattered outwardly, or I outright deny the compliment. I have even reacted with anger and accusations in the face of compliments! I was actually thinking about this yesterday because I work with a girl who gets a giant ego boost out of the slightest praise or attention. She only seems to notice when people are pleased with her but is oblivious when someone is annoyed. If someone casually compliments her outfit or flirts with her, she makes a point to tell other people about the incident as if she wants to be complimented a second time. I’m the opposite. If someone praises me, flirts with me, compliments me, you name it, if it’s positive I will find a reason to deflect it.

It’s not that I don’t think I’m great. I honestly don’t know what it is. I guess a lot of it is that I don’t want to be like my co-worker and be a braggy creep. But deep down there is the fact that sometimes positive attention has a price, and that I am quite frankly a bitter and suspicious person. Maybe I had too many backhanded compliments as a child? All I know is that it was a bad habit at work and that promoting myself, making sure to take credit for my own successes and absorbing the fact that my bosses really do appreciate and value me has been a hell of a smarter tactic than just hiding my light under a bushel (as my dad always said.)

It is a simple fact that people tend to believe what they hear. If they hear nothing but bad things about a person–even if it is from that person’s own mouth–they will eventually start to believe it.

This doesn’t mean that you should go about bragging. But deflecting compliments and making self-depricating remarks will eventually lead to people believing that you really are less cool than you might appear.

Furthermore, accepting compliments graciously makes it easier to give compliments–as long as you think of compliments as primarily sources of discomfort, you will be less likely to give them–after all, why discomfort someone else? If you can get into the mode where recieving a compliment is a warm, cozy feeling, you will give them more often ,which is a nice thing to do.

People who are too modest get on my nerves to a certain extent. It just bothers me when I know somehow who has a certain skill or ability won’t accept compliments given to him/her. I have a friend like this and I always want to pull him aside and explain to him that people really do like [whatever the compliment is].

I was modest once but then I realised I’m perfect.

My GF, painfully modest even though she’s a hottie.


To all the folks here in this thread, those at home and everyone in the studio audience, we do indeed have a winner!

Qad, you do realize that I shall now have to bump your MPSIMS appreciation thread? Good, so long as we are clear on that …

Early on in life, I found out how it was ridiculously unhealthy to doubt one’s own abilities. It remained for me to comprehend, as I did not know well enough to sufficiently pursue mentors who might have fostered my skills, all because I was (and had previously been put) in doubt of them. Those who utterly deny their obvious talents call involuntary attention to a disturbing core self. It’s one that refuses to acknowledge the value of a worthy person and is the exact breeding ground for the most dire insanity.

I’ve found that, quite often, it isn’t actually modesty. They’re trolling for an ego boost.

“Oh, no, I can’t make widgets, I’m terrible at it.”
“No! Don’t say that! You’re the best widget maker I know! Remember that widget you made that won all the awards?”

I’m weird I guess…I love to be compliemented, although I generally don’t believe people. For example, I get told very often I am beautiful, and I love to hear it, but I just don’t believe it myself.

One of LaRouchefoucauld’s most famous maxims was “The refusal of praise is merely the desire to be praised twice.”

So, appartently, even two centuries ago, people who were (or acted) too modest to accept a compliment were annoying.

EVEN if you’re not fully persuaded, the best thing to do when you receive praise or a compliment is to say, “Really? Thank you, that’s very kind,” and then move on. Heck, even if you KNOW that a compliment offered isn’t true (say, when someone says “You look great, you must’ve lost a lot of weight,” though you haven’t), a quick, polite “Thank you” is a much better response than a lengthy speech about how heavy you are.

True modesty is a virtue. A modest person makes no bigger fuss about oneself than is warranted, acknowledges the work of others that one’s work rests on, and keeps a sense of proportion about one’s value in the world. As with any virtue, those who possess it to a great degree are disliked, because their modesty thows our vanity into sharp relief in our own minds.

False virtue is merely poorly-disguised pride.

It seems the concensus around this thread is that hyper-modesty is usually countered with “education” in how appreciated other people are about the subject’s skills/personality/whatever. Those who try to reveal the light under the bushel (nice, pokey) are hitting it up all wrong.

The idea of providing whatever one can in order to represent what humans can do is what makes me modest. I don’t feel it’s necessary to receive compassionate criticism, or praise. I have enough faith and love for what I am already, and any situation that leads to this through another person will be appreciated of course, but it’s also supplemental.

It’s either possible or probable that modest-prone folks feel the same way.

  • I also give compliments, but on a rare occasion, when it’s well deserved. I don’t think that having a shield to deflect praise will affect this much.

For all of you who don’t like to be complimented (I’m included), I’ve found a nice way to respond is to praise the speaker, thereby deflecting the meat of the compliment but appreciating the spirit in which it was given.

“You look really nice today.”
“Thanks, that’s so nice of you to say that!”

In my head, just saying, “thanks!” feels like I’m saying, “yes, I know!” (And if I say, “no, I don’t,” I’m calling the other person a liar or saying they have bad taste.) But saying “thanks for saying that!” is showing I appreciate the gesture, but not that I necessarily agree with the content. Everyone’s happy!

I don’t have a problem with compliments, but when it’s time to, say, talk about your accomplishments in an interview or a cover letter I am uncomfortable. I know what I can do, I just don’t like tooting my own horn. I don’t want to grandstand and say “Hey, look at the great things I’ve done! Aren’t I great?” I know you need to do these things in order to differentiate yourself in work situations, I just HATE doing it, so I usually low-key it if I have to.

I’m hyper-modest, but in a different sense. I have an almost Victorian sense of propriety. I won’t wear sleeveless shirts or V-necked tees. It took me years of living in the South before I’d wear shorts in public. I’d rather be dead than in a bathing suit in public. My family jokes about my constant search for the turtle-necked bathing suit. I went over 25 years without going to the doctor because I was afraid I might have to undress (it didn’t matter that there are female doctors - I’m just as modest around them). I won’t change clothes in front of anyone, even my sisters. It really is quite debilitating.


Just what I was thinking, only far more succinct. Absolutely agree. I’d also add that in my limited experience inappropriate modesty is often nothing more than a barely-concealed attempt to fish for compliments.