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How to Win at Everything: The Rules of Healthy Competition

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Accept Applause

Do you instinctively deflect praise for everything from your great fashion sense to snagging the corner office because you're afraid of being seen as having a big head? Get out of the habit. "Acknowledgment for the things you've accomplished is crucial to identity and self-worth," says Dr. Fels. She suggests that you put yourself in a position to be praised. Identify your strengths and talents, then find places where they're likely to be valued. If you feel your skills are wasted or unappreciated on the job (or, if you're a stay-at-home mom, unappreciated by your toddler), put them to work for a volunteer, school, or community group. Then accept, without apology, the kudos you score.

Granted, replacing a knee-jerk "it was nothing" with "thanks for noticing" will initially require conscious effort -- and a willingness to override any consequent discomfort. But just being aware that, as women, we have difficulty accepting accolades can help, says Dr. Fels. Think of recognition as essential to your well-being -- akin to proper nutrition and exercise -- and embrace your hard-won rewards.

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