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One of the very first lessons we learn is to express thanks. Society constantly reminds us to be grateful to other people and their actions. Yet, if this is true, why is it so difficult to receive gratitude if everyone is expected to express gratitude?
It can be challenging to accept a compliment when we've been taught our whole lives to give and not receive. However, learning how to respond to compliments is just as important as giving them.
What is a compliment?
A compliment expresses gratitude, respect, or praise towards someone else. A compliment can make someone feel seen and heard. Positive expressions toward a person's character or actions improve mood, deepen relationships, and lowers anxiety. Compliments are powerful statements that everyone deserves to receive.
However, compliments are gifts that are rare to obtain. Do you remember the last time you were given a compliment? Since compliments are scarce commodities, it feels strange to receive one. So, reacting to praise does not come naturally to some people. If you have trouble responding to compliments, you're not alone.
Accepting praise makes us feel vulnerable or may create discomfort. Don't let these initial reactions stop you from accepting and appreciating someone's praise of you. It would be best for you to accept compliments because you deserve them.
The first thing to remember about responding to a compliment is to realize that you are worthy of receiving one. Don't let your negative self-esteem cloud a positive outlook on your character. Compliments are meant to boost your self-esteem and not lower it further. It is up to you to respond positively to praise so you can feel better about yourself.
Also, you can take solace in knowing that most responses to compliments express gratitude towards the one giving the compliment. You can quickly repay the compliment by showing equal appreciation towards the person handing you the praise because studies show that giving a compliment is just as beneficial as receiving one.
So, if someone pays you a compliment, graciously accept it, and continue to reciprocate. Now that you know about the positive aspects of receiving praise let's show you how to respond to compliments with examples.
11 Ways to Respond to Compliments
Embarrassment is a common reaction to a compliment. A natural remedy for dealing with embarrassment is to get out of the situation as soon as possible.
You may want to change the subject or ignore the compliment altogether. It's easy to disregard the remark, so you don't feel self-cautious.
Remember, a compliment is meant to make you feel good, and that's okay. Eventually, you'll feel less insecure about yourself. So be sure to accept a compliment by simply acknowledging it. Recognizing the compliment can boost your self-esteem and gain confidence.
Compliment: “You did a great job presenting the project today. Everyone was impressed.”
Wrong Response: “I think I'm going to review it again before I meet with the client.”
Correct Response: “I appreciate you telling me that. I worked hard on it, so that makes me feel great!”
2. Think Before You Speak
The last thing you want to do is come off rude towards someone paying you a compliment. Sometimes our facial expressions or body language does not match our tone of voice. A great tactic is making eye contact and smiling as you listen and react to the compliment.
Before you answer, steady your voice, and think about what you want to say. It's easy to tangle words, and sentences come out in a jumbled mess. Think about what you'd like to convey when accepting the compliment and try not to overthink it.
In the end, you can respond to their praise with a genuine reaction instead of an inappropriate one.
Compliment: “Your homemade cupcakes are delicious; you could be a chef!”
Wrong Response: “You eat anything, so it makes sense you like them.”
Correct Response: “I know how much you like cupcakes, so that's good coming from you!”
3. Stay Humble
A compliment is something to be treasured. Don't let it get to your head. Please don't make a habit of asking someone to continue their praise for you. Feeling pride in yourself is great, but too much pride can prevent growth.
Constant praise and admiration lower your ability to take risks. Some people gain more compliments than others. If you are one of these people, staying grounded is crucial and not losing yourself in others' praises. Accept compliments with grace and continue to practice humility.
Compliment: “You sang that song perfectly. How do you make it look so easy?”
Wrong Response: “I mean, I've been singing since I was a kid. It's looked easy because it is easy.”
Correct Response: “That’s kind of you to say. I honestly practice as much as I can.”
4. Share the Credit
If you receive a compliment that an entire team deserves, it’s a good idea to give them credit. Working on a group project takes talent from each individual. Being a part of a team is recognizing how it’s essential to show appreciation toward one another.
Giving gratitude ensures increased productivity, better health, and more happiness. So, if someone compliments you on a great day’s work, remember to mention the people who helped you get there.
Compliment: “That article you wrote is up for an award. Which makes sense because it was beautifully written.”
Wrong Response: “I agree. I haven’t slept in weeks trying to get it done.”
Correct Response: “Thanks for reading it. I couldn’t have done it without my editors. They were there for me through the entire experience.”
5. Don’t Correct Them
Compliments are a gift. It would be impolite to tell someone how much you dislike the gift. So, if someone pays a compliment and misses a few details, it’s best not to correct them. The praise comes from a good place, so if you were to correct the praise, the compliment could be ruined. However, there are exceptions to this suggestion.
If the compliment was not intended for you but someone else – make sure to correct them so that the compliment is given to the appropriate person. Otherwise, accept the compliment with a smile and receive the gift with gratitude.
Compliment: “Your painting was beautiful and reminded me of Van Gogh.”
Wrong Response: “My works are more like Monet, but thanks.”
Correct Response: “Wow, thank you! I’m glad impressionism came through in my work.”
6. Accept & Move-On
Praise should never be used as leverage for another opportunity. If someone is giving you a genuine compliment, it's best not to take advantage of their kindness. You don’t want to be someone who makes another person regret showing you kindness.
How would you feel if someone tried to utilize your kindness for their gain? So, if someone compliments you, do not try to get more out of them.
Just accept that they offered you kindness and move on. Besides, their words should boost your self-confidence to work harder and strive to meet your goals.
Compliment: “You’ve practiced way more than the other players. You deserve to be the starting quarterback.”
Wrong Response: “Could you tell Coach that? I think it would mean a lot coming from you.”
Correct Response: “Thanks. I just hope Coach sees what you see.”
7. Repay the Compliment
Accepting a compliment can be challenging for people who are not used to receiving praise or gratitude. If you enjoy giving instead of receiving, repaying the compliment will lower your insecurities about accepting the compliment.
Next time someone pays you a compliment, try to find a way to give them one right back. Coming up with something to say on the spot might be challenging. Here is a list of 201 Compliments to Say to a Friend, Coworker, or Loved One.
Keep these in your back pocket next time someone pays you a compliment. That way, you instantly repay them. Just make sure you are genuine in delivering the compliment.
Compliment: “That dress looks amazing on you!”
Wrong Response: “Oh, um, this? Thanks, you too!”
Correct Response: “Aw, thanks! I love what you did with your hair!”
8. It’s Not a Competition
Repaying a compliment makes the other person feel just as unique. However, you don’t want to overdo it.
Let someone compliment you because it makes them feel better, showing how much they care about you. If you try to one-up their compliment, it could quickly turn into a ‘compliment battle.’
Please don’t waste time trying to find a way to praise someone who wants you to know how they feel. Instead, let them appreciate you so you can feel treasured.
In the end, you’ll deepen your relationship with someone special. So, accept their compliment with love and let them express their true feelings.
Compliment: “You’re honestly the most amazing person I know.”
Wrong Response: “Stop, you’re the amazing one. You’re honestly just perfect, kind, gentle, and loving.”
Correct Response: “Wow, that makes me feel so loved. I’m very happy when I’m with you.”
9. Don’t Go Fishing
Praise can be scary. It's rare to receive a genuine compliment that you deserve. Our bosses, family members, and friends can easily forget to show appreciation. Although you may want more, you should always appreciate a compliment when it comes your way.
Please don’t continue to ask for further details or egg them on to continue to praise you. Remember that although compliments can raise your self-esteem, you should not depend on them.
If you need a little help feeling good about yourself, you should practice daily affirmations to boost your confidence. Otherwise, appreciate each compliment you receive, no matter how small.
Compliment: “That video you uploaded was hilarious. I was laughing for a while.”
Wrong Response: “What else did you like about it? Did you notice I put in my music? I’ve been thinking of starting a web series. If you think it’s funny, I’m sure others will too. What do you think?”
Correct Response: “Thanks for telling me! I hope to start a web series soon so I can continue making others laugh.”
10. Don’t Be Self-Serving
The truth is no one wants to compliment someone who already compliments themselves. Imagine someone giving themselves a toast or making a speech about their accomplishments. If you enjoy boasting about yourself, then compliments won’t feel as impactful as they deserve.
When someone compliments you, it is not an invitation to continue congratulating yourself. Instead, reflect on the compliment and appreciate that someone took the time to give you one. You don’t want to use their praise as an invitation to boast about yourself.
Compliment: “I think you’ll get the job. You have an impressive resume.”
Wrong Response: “I also have a high IQ and graduated at the top of my class. They would miss out if they don’t hire me.”
Correct Response: “Thanks. I value your opinion. I hope the interview goes well.”
11. Keep it Simple
The obvious yet most effective way to accept a compliment is to say thanks. Compliments deserve a thankful recognition. If someone takes the time to tell you how great you are, it’s only polite to express gratitude.
Don’t overthink how you’ll repay the compliment because a simple thank you can get the job done. However, follow our tips above and be genuine in your response.
Compliment: “I admire your kindness. You’re such a nice person.”
Wrong Response: “Okay, thanks.”
Correct Response: “Thank you, I appreciate that!”
Final Thoughts on Responding to Compliments
Whether you enjoy praise or not, you must respond correctly to a compliment. So, the next time you are given a compliment, accept it with grace and appreciation. That, coupled with the other tips offered here, will help get you into the right mindset in no time!
Remember… practice makes perfect, so keep cycling through this list until you find the technique, or techniques, which work best for you.
Don’t forget that showing gratitude is the most essential aspect of responding to a compliment. Expressing gratitude can build strong relationships, encourage optimism, and increase productivity. If you’d like to practice daily gratitude in life, be sure to check out our 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge.