After last week’s post How to Pay a Compliment, I received many comments and emails asking for a follow-up post on how to graciously receive a compliment. Many readers told me they had a hard time accepting praise.
I empathize with them, because I’ve been there. When I used to receive compliments, I would deny, deflect, explain away, apologize or otherwise stick my foot in my mouth before it ever occurred to me to gracefully say “thank you.” But that’s all it takes.
To graciously accept a compliment, all you need to say is “thank you.” (Then, stop talking!)
You’re being praised. You don’t need to wow your complimenter, make them laugh or tell them they’re wrong. If the compliment is sincerely meant, you can’t go wrong with a simple, sincere “thank you.” If you have a history of putting your foot in your mouth at moments like these, stick to this fail-safe strategy: say your thanks and bite your tongue!
Okay, I’ve quit embarrassing myself when receiving compliments. What are some other gracious things I could say?
1. Say “thank you,” and then add a bit of personal information. This one’s my favorite. “Those are really beautiful earrings.” “Thank you, they were a gift from my grandmother.”
2. Say “thank you,” and share your feelings about the subject. “That dress you made for Sarah turned out really well. “Thank you, I really enjoyed making it.”
3. Say “thank you,” and reflect some glory back to the complimenter. “That fundraiser you worked so hard on turned out really well.” “Thank you. That means a lot, coming from you.”
How do I respond to an awkward compliment?
People say the strangest things. If someone gives you a strange compliment, try a gentle (and vague) answer. “Thank you, that’s the nicest thing I’ve heard all day.” “What a kind thing to say.”
How do I reply to an insincere or sarcastic complement?
Sadly, this happens–and there are two ways to go here. You can give a vague response (“How kind”), or a simple “thank you.” If that seems inappropriate, you can take a tip from Anne of Green Gables, and say “Why, that almost sounds like a compliment.” If you’re going to go this direction, it is essential to use a light, funny tone.
Remember, when you’re receiving a compliment, you’re receiving the opinion of another person. Honor that opinion. (If being praised makes you uncomfortable, stick to a simple “thank you” and your complimenter will never know.)
Sometimes we deny and deflect praise out of a sense of modesty, but what we’re really doing is telling the complimenter that their opinion is wrong. Don’t make this mistake! Don’t shut yourself off to praise–acknowledge it. You and your complimenter will both be the better for it.
*** This subject makes me want to re-read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? which discusses kindness using the metaphor of a bucket. It’s a kids’ book, but that doesn’t mean grown-ups won’t enjoy it.
image source: flickr user jlunar