December 15th, 2015

3 Ways to Receive a Compliment With Grace

by Jacqueline Whitmore

It seems like compliments are exchanged as much, if not more, than gifts during the holiday season. If you’re like most, you’re eager to receive a compliment — especially from someone you admire — but aren’t sure what to say in response.

Many people downplay compliments to avoid the appearance of conceit. It’s so common that sociolinguists have categorized the three responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection. Rather than humbly accept or outright reject the kind words, individuals often choose to deflect or dilute the compliment.

You may be tempted to respond with denial or self-insult. It’s easy to say something like, “Thank you, but this pie recipe is so easy, a monkey could have made it,” or “Thanks, but I’ve had this outfit for 10 years; it’s practically falling apart!” Others ask for additional reassurance: “Really? I felt like I completely botched that introduction.”

Though you may feel as if you’re responding appropriately, it only undermines the compliment or insults the giver. When you devalue a compliment, you can send the message that you have a low self-esteem, aren’t confident in your work or don’t respect the opinion of the person who gave you the praise.

If you frequently respond negatively to a compliment, retrain yourself to show gratitude. Here are 3 ways to accept a compliment during holiday gatherings and throughout the year:

  • Be gracious. Any time you receive a compliment, reply with “Thank you.” It’s a simple, but powerful phrase. The person bestowing the compliment will be most receptive to a humble response. Say something like, “Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” or “Thank you, I appreciate the compliment.”
  • Take one for the team. If the compliment is in regards to a team effort, acknowledge the contributions of your colleagues. Some powerful executives reach a point where they no longer publicly recognize or give credit to those who helped them succeed. This is the quickest way to lose friends.
  • Never undermine the compliment. Receive every compliment with unassuming gratitude. Avoid phrases like, “Oh, it’s no big deal,” or “Thanks, but it was nothing.” When you downplay a compliment, you may feel that you’re showing humility. Instead, it may make the person who gave you the compliment feel personally rejected.

For more tips on How To Receive a Compliment Without Being Awkward About It, read my article on Entrepreneur.com.

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