How To Accept And Respond To A Compliment

by Olivia Frost

It is in our nature as human beings to crave compliments, as they make us feel valued and accepted. Despite this, many of us find it difficult to accept one and to know what to say in response. You don’t want to sound conceited, but you don’t want to be so modest. This can result in appearing as if you are completely rejecting their opinion.

This struggle is so common it has been studied by sociolinguists. They categorized the three common responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection. You have probably used these three responses at least once in your life, but you definitely have a preferred response. If you are struggling on how to adapt your responses, here is a list of ways to make your responses sound more genuine and accepting.

Just Say Thank You

Although this may seem like a simple and generic response, expressing your gratitude is one of the best ways to take a compliment. Simply saying “Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you” will make you seem grateful for their nice words about you. The person giving you the compliment would much rather a thank you than you rejecting it. It’s what they believe so take it!

Give Credit

If the thing you are being complimented for wasn’t all your work, then be sure to give them credit too! Although you can still accept the compliment and say thank you – you should still let the person complimenting you that it wasn’t just you. Saying “thank you, I worked on it together with …” will ensure that the compliment is shared and credit is given to everyone who deserves it.

Return The Compliment

By this I don’t mean just saying “You too” or “So do you”. I mean returning your compliment with a genuine heart-felt comment back. Try to think of other things you can praise the person on, something completely different to their compliment. Remember, this doesn’t have to just be about physical appearance, there are plenty of unique ways to compliment somebody – for example, about their work ethic or ability to do something.

Recognise Your Own Strengths

Sometimes we can be far too modest due to the fear of coming across narcissistic. However, realising your own strength and ability will help you to acknowledge and accept praise when it is given to you. Acknowledging your strength in response to a compliment will help you to see yourself as others see you. Try to give yourself 5 compliments a day, perhaps when looking in the mirror whilst getting ready in the morning. These don’t have to be physical things, just make yourself feel good about the things that you should. Congratulate yourself for finishing that essay, tell yourself your hair looks nice today, let yourself believe that you are beautiful inside and out. Once you start to feel comfortable with giving yourself compliments, you’ll be able to respond in a more appreciative way when somebody else gives you one.

It is important to value yourself as others do. Knowing your self-worth will make receiving compliments so much easier.

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