Knowing how to respond to compliments seems like a no-brainer, but for so many people it’s one of the hardest things to do naturally. Accepting compliments can make some of us squirm, blush, stammer, or want to melt into the floor. Or worse, we brush it off that it can’t be true and punch our self-esteem in the gut. (That used to be me!)
Then there’s the other side where some of us love to receive compliments and dig for more and make a big deal out of it until the situation is awkward. That’s not so good either.
I’m all for being humble about receiving praise, but it’s also totally ok to accept compliments that we actually deserve. Learning how to respond to compliments is a critical life lesson that increases our self-esteem, cements our value to others, and attracts more opportunities for a self-confidence boost.
Those sound like awesome reasons, right? Let’s take a quick look at why you need to learn to accept compliments, then we’ll dive into how to respond to compliments like a boss babe!
Why You Need to Accept Compliments
Because you deserve it. Really, it’s that simple.
Whether you slaved over the fabulous meal you made for your boyfriend or husband or finally completed a six-month project at work, you freaking deserve it.
Somewhere in our upbringing, so many of us women are taught that doing things is just expected, and we have to stay humble about what we do. Humility is great, but when you’ve done something that took effort, your self-esteem deserves that boost of appreciation from a sincere compliment.
Even more so when you’re receiving a compliment about how you look. You DO look beautiful!
Accepting compliments is how you cement your value as a fantastic person of worth. Those compliments feed your self-worth, confidence, and ability to strive for bigger and better things. They allow you to believe in yourself, and they’re a critical part of self-care.
Finally, accepting compliments shows that you are open to receiving love from your partner. This is a critical aspect of a healthy relationship. When you accept his compliment, you show that you trust his words and intentions, believe what he says, and place value on his words to you. And it feels amazing!
1. Say “Thank You”
This is the first and easiest way to respond to compliments. Just say, “Thank you!” And say it without looking down in embarrassment or rolling your eyes like “it ain’t no thang.”
No, it was a thing. And you did it. And you deserve the credit (see above if you forgot already!).
Look the person in their eyes, smile and say those two simple words.
If you want to get extra meaningful, you can say, “Thank you, that means a lot to me!” The giver of the compliment will know you sincerely appreciate their words when you add a bit more to your thank you.
2. Don’t Try to Out-Compliment Them
When someone gives you a sincere compliment, and it makes you uncomfortable, it’s easy to fall into the trap of returning the favor to avoid letting yourself feel the embarrassment of attention. Don’t do it.
When you respond to compliments, let their compliment simply stand alone. It’s ok for you to have your 20 seconds of appreciation. In fact, you could probably use the boost of confidence, right?
If you try to turn a person’s compliment around on them, they will feel like you didn’t believe them and may not compliment you again. This is super bad in a work situation where your promotions rely on recognition of your efforts.
So when your coworker says, “Adrienne you did a great job connecting with the new client in the one-on-one today,” don’t respond with, “Oh, thanks, I guess, but I’m sure you would have done much better as usual.”
Nope. Own it, accept it, and express your gratitude for it.
3. Don’t Downplay the Compliment
Back to why you should accept compliments: you deserve it. Clearly you did something to warrant a coworker or boyfriend noticing your efforts, so take it in!
When you wonder how to respond to compliments, remember that they are sharing something sincere and thoughtful, even if it’s spur of the moment (wow, you look gorgeous!). If you brush off the compliment, you devalue their opinion. It breaks a tiny thread of trust and open communication between you. Doing that repeatedly can be detrimental to the relationship whether it’s romantic or platonic.
It can even insult them or make you appear ungrateful, even if you were simply feeling embarrassed or unworthy. Just respond to the compliment with acknowledgment and gratitude.
4. Definitely Don’t Insult Yourself
Ugh, I was the queen of this one for a long time.
Coworker: “Brie, that Halloween decoration is AMAZING!”
Me: “Oh, thanks, it’s pretty good, but I suck at doing that bunting stuff. It’s a mess.”
And no, I wasn’t fishing for more compliments. I really thought I had bungled half the decoration because it didn’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t cut myself any slack.
My coworkers genuinely thought the wreath looked incredible. But instead of accepting their sincerity, I downplayed it, insulted my own talent, and kicked my self-esteem to the curb. Boo.
Let people compliment you and let your self-worth feel it and believe it. Accepting compliments should never be followed up with your inner critic insulting yourself.
Don’t mistake this one for shifting the credit. It’s sharing the credit.
When you respond to compliments that relate to something you did with another person, show your integrity by making sure your friend/coworker/boyfriend receives the proper credit.
Start with the “thank you” then express how the other person pitched in. “I couldn’t have done it without Kendra.” “Callie deserves half the praise for how she figured out the error in the code.” “My boyfriend also helped me get the neighborhood organized for the cleanup.”
Leaders know that they don’t get where they’re at on their own. They lift the people around them. Sharing the credit is a boss babe move for sure.
6. Watch Your Body Language
One of the keys for how to respond to compliments successfully is to be mindful of your body language. Barely 7% of our communication is verbal, and the rest is our tone of voice and physical body language.
For those of us who are uncomfortable receiving praise, it’s common to look down, shake our heads, fold our arms or roll our eyes when someone gives us a compliment. For people who love compliments too much, they can become loud/brash, backslappers, or puffed up.
All of these send subtle (or not so subtle) cues to the other person about what we really think of their compliment. Folding your arms shows you distrust the person or aren’t open to receiving. Puffing up shows you’re full of pride and boastfulness. Either direction of non-verbal cues can affect the compliment interaction.
Keep an eye on your body language next time and try to be relaxed and open physically, and have a warm, positive tone of voice.
7. Follow Protocols in Formal Settings
A real boss move happens when you accept praise in a formal, public setting like an awards ceremony. Or maybe when you’re being announced as a keynote speaker. This is your chance to show the kind of grace and self-assurance you have (or not).
- Be mindful of your body language and walk confidently.
- Keep a normal stride and don’t turn your head in too many directions quickly.
- Accept the award with your left hand to keep your right hand free to shake hands.
- Smile warmly and express gratitude simply and sincerely.
- Share credit where credit is due!
- Keep your message humble, assertive, and positive.
Follow these steps for how to respond to compliments in a formal setting to wow yourself and the crowd with how at ease you are.
8. Boss Babe Bonus for a Self-Confidence Boost
This is a secret weapon for how to respond to compliments that I learned from Margaret Lynch Raniere. It’s best used in less formal settings and works fantastically with friends and family who know you well.
Respond to compliments with one enthusiastic word: “Really?”
Say it like a kid hearing that she gets to meet Santa Claus for the first time: super excited and positive with a beaming smile like you can’t believe how freaking lucky you are. Fake it til you make it baby!
Guess what happens. Your boyfriend is going to give you another compliment to reinforce what he just said, and he’s going to say it with gusto to convince you because you opened yourself to his opinion. It’s like an instant boost of confidence espresso! You might even get away with saying it twice!
Try it out and see how amazing you feel getting extra compliments from people who know you well and are sincere with their words!
When they’re done, you know what to do. Just say, “Thank you!” with that magnificent smile you have.
If you loved this post, then you know there’s a woman in your life you need to share it with! Sharing is caring! Write in the comments below how it felt when you tried these tips for how to respond to compliments.