Healthy Living

The Subtle Art of Accepting a Compliment


In my office, snacks are the fuel that powers every project, meeting, and brainstorming session. My coworkers and I have entire desk drawers dedicated to snacks, and I have a candy bowl positioned on the outer perimeter that passersby frequently indulge in. One afternoon, I plucked a Dove Dark Chocolate Promises from the bowl, and the message inside the wrapper read:

“Accept a compliment.”

The short phrase gave me pause. Accepting compliments is not easy for me — as wonderful and thoughtful as praise can be, I’m always a little uncomfortable on the receiving end of it. I don’t want to seem like I’m taking an exaggerated bow, but, at the same time, I don’t want to dismiss that recognition as nothing either. Is it possible to accept compliments with confidence and grace? The answer is a resounding YES. Here are some tips to consider the next time you receive a compliment:


1. Say “thank you.”

You learned at an early age to politely say “thank you” when receiving a compliment, but pay attention the next time you’re in this situation. How quickly do you utter these words, then steer the conversation in a different direction? Or lobby a half-baked compliment back, only to feel a little disingenuous? Resist the urge to edge out of the spotlight and offer a genuine response. Even a simple, “Thank you. That just made my day!” goes a long way.


2. Give credit where credit is due.

No person is an island, and often compliments can be shared among a group, especially at work. Accept praise, but always share it with those who helped in the achievement.



3. Don’t argue or undermine.

To avoid looking like an attention-seeking egomaniac, we might respond to praise with a self-deprecating statement. But undermining compliments doesn’t do us any favors, and makes our conversational partners uncomfortable and feel like they need to continue heaping praise. Instead, soak up the spotlight. Even if you don’t believe it, you deserve every kind word.


4. Enjoy the spotlight.

While you can (and should!) give credit where credit is due in certain situations, make an effort to avoid immediately shifting the spotlight away from you. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable and need to redirect the conversation, consider asking a question. Something like, “Thanks, Nate! I’m so glad everything went well with the project. How did your presentation go yesterday?” will do.



5. Take it to heart.

A sincere compliment carries a lot of meaning. Someone went out of their way to share a genuine, kind thought with you, about you. Reflect on that and believe those words. Don’t just hear a compliment, really listen to it and take it to heart. Those words will not only brighten your day, but also boost your confidence, making it easier to accept compliments in the future.