I also like variations on "Thanks! That really means a lot to me" (this is reserved for compliments about my art that are more than superficial).
“I love what you’re wearing today, you look great!”
In response to the above statement, do you say: “Thanks, I love this outfit too.” Or are you more likely to say: “Really? I’ve had this for ages and don’t really like it anymore, but was in rush this morning!”
Or in the work environment, if someone has complimented the job you did on a particular project, are you the kind of person that would say: “Thank you, that means a lot, it was a lot of hard work, but I’m really happy with how it came together,” or: “No problems, it was really easy and anyone could have done it.”
If you’re one of many that fall into the latter, and have trouble accepting compliments graciously from others, you’re not only selling yourself short, but also disregarding the opinion of the person giving the compliment.
Looking at the examples above, you can see why this can be particularly detrimental in the workplace, as rather than making yourself seem invaluable, you’re actually coming across as the complete opposite.
If someone has given you a heartfelt compliment, shutting it down immediately can make them feel like their opinion is wrong or not appreciated. After all, a compliment really is a gift of words especially picked for you, so learning how to accept one graciously will not only make you feel happy, but will give the giver a buzz to see you light up with gratitude too.
What is it about accepting somebody’s kind words that we find so hard? Is it because we doubt their sincerity or is it because we don’t feel like we’re worthy?
A lot of it comes down to how we view ourselves, therefore when somebody’s kind words don’t reflect the image we see in our sometimes harshly slanted mirror, we have a tendency to immediately discount them.
For example, if someone compliments your appearance or your clothes on a day you’re feeling unattractive, chances are your initial reaction will be to brush off what they’re saying. Not because you don’t appreciate their view, but because it completely goes against the thoughts that have been subconsciously circling your in head.
Sometimes we also have a tendency to paint ourselves with a more modest brush because we worry about coming across as being overly confident or arrogant, which is particularly prevalent in females, as historically these qualities have been frowned upon by society.
Choosing to say “thank you” (and meaning it) is one of them the most important lessons in self-love. We’re often our harshest critics, which is why we can’t always see what other people do, making us less aware of the snippets of beauty, intelligence and kindness we exude to the outside world on a daily basis.
So how can we accept these beautiful gifts of words?
Next time someone gives you a compliment, silence the doubt in your head and try to absorb what they’re saying. Wait a second before you respond, look into their eyes, smile and just say a simple “thank you” or try one of the following:
Even if you don’t agree with the compliment, stay focused on receiving it and resist the urge to reciprocate (which more often than not has a tendency to come across as not being genuine). Not only is this a gracious way to acknowledge their words, but also what you’ll notice is an exchange of positive energy and a connection between you and the other person.
Like any habit, it can take time to change your behavior, particularly if you’re having trouble believing what the other person is saying is true. However, by observing how you react each time and being mindful of your actions, it is a habit you can learn to change.
Another powerful exercise you can try if you have a big group of people (and one that we here at Mindvalley practice!) is an exercise called The Beauty I See In You. This exercise is great for team building, to use in schools with students, or even at your next family event.
This exercise can initially leave you feeling a little uncomfortable, especially if they’re not used to accepting compliments, although after a few minutes, the result is incredibly powerful as you let everyone’s words wash over you, and begin to realize the beauty inside of you.
Learning how to receive a compliment graciously in an important part of strengthening the most important relationship you have – the one with yourself. It is also a way of connecting on a deeper level with those around us who wish to give us the gift of words.
If you have the opportunity, try The Beauty I See In You exercise and share your experience below as we’d love to hear the impact it’s had on you and your group.
Deanna is a writer for FinerMinds and a traveller of the world. She makes any place home with her wonderful charm, her keen interest in local heritage and, of course, her Aussie ways.
If someone takes the time to give you a compliment, you should accept it with an enthusiastic, heart-felt “thank you.” Here are some other expressions for.
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Do you get really awkward when someone compliments you?
I used to. I blame it on my inner perfectionist. Plus, in Australian culture, we tend to believe that accepting a compliment means you have a ‘big head’ or are ‘full of yourself’ – so we deflect, dismiss and talk ourselves down. Rising up above others is seen as a big no-no.
And then I started hanging out with Americans, who do the opposite – they push each other up.
At first, I didn’t know what to say to their gushing comments of “Christina you’re amazing!” and “I love your podcast!” and “You’re the most creative person I know!”
…but after a while, I learned to take it. After all, it felt good! And I started giving more compliments to others (when deserved, of course. I ain’t blowing smoke up anyone’s ass!)
I got responses like:
“Oh, it was nothing!”
“Yeah…well, I could have done better”
“Are you serious? But I’m nowhere as good as so-and-so!”
Does this sound like you? If so, keep reading.
Someone has just gone out of their way to say something nice to you. They didn’t have to do that. Do you think if they didn’t mean it they would say it? (Of course, there are always people who try to suck up to you…but hopefully you can see through it!)
If you say “Oh, no I’m not”, you’ve essentially rejected that nice gesture. Don’t make someone else feel rejected because of your own shitty insecurities. Reward them for going out of their way to say something nice.
Think about it this way: if someone gives you a gift, do you throw it back at them and splutter “Oh there is no way in hell I deserve this! Give it to Mike instead!”? Um, no. ‘Cos that’s just rude.
Don’t reject someone’s compliment gift.
I went rock climbing with a friend who had been doing it for years. As a newbie, I was amazed by his skills. I said “Wow, you are SO good at that!” and he immediately said “Oh, nah, I’m nowhere near as good as these guys”, indicating to some spider monkey lookalikes who were shimmying up a 45 degree overhang – backwards.
Well, if you’re not any good…then what does that make me?? I thought.
You don’t have to be the best in the world to be impressive to others. Remember that your ability is always relative. For example, I may not be a good public speaker compared to, say, Tony Robbins, but compared to the average person, I’m pretty good.
I’ve learned that negative self talk can be really detrimental to our success. The more you talk yourself down, the more likely you’ll start to believe that you’re no good. And if you believe you’re no good, it’s very difficult to improve and succeed.
So if you say “No I’m not, no I’m not, no I’m not” every time someone compliments you, those negative words will ingrain themselves in your brain and make you feel worse about yourself. So stop that.
(Side note: if you’re saying “No I’m not”, knowing full well that you are, but you’re just fishing for more compliments…you need to learn how to be ok with yourself. Seriously. The best way to get approval is to not need it.)
Firstly, resist the urge to say “No I’m not!” and instead simply say “Thank you”.
You can then follow up by giving praise to something or someone who’s helped you:
FRIEND: “Hey, I love your dress!”
YOU: “Thank you, it’s from _____ . I love their stuff, it’s so well made.”
NOT: “Oh please, it’s old. But YOU look gorgeous!”
COLLEAGUE: “Great job with your presentation today.”
YOU: “Thanks! Sam’s been helping me practice, which made it a lot less stressful.”
NOT: “Oh my God, I was so nervous. I’m so glad that’s over.”
DINING BUDDY: “Wow, this food is so delicious!”
YOU: “Thanks! It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe. Isn’t he amazing?”
NOT: “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s salty enough. Is it salty enough? It’s not salty enough. Here’s the salt. Is that better? Dammit, I should have put more salt.”
If you’re really good at something and you’ve worked hard for it, then for f**k’s sake BE OK WITH THE FACT THAT YOU’RE GOOD AT IT.
You don’t have to be a douche about it. There’s a difference between saying “Thanks, I am pretty good, aren’t I?” and “Thanks, I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.” And if someone’s going to think less of you because you’re proud of an achievement, well, I think they deserve an un-friending anyway.
Here’s how to own it:
COLLEAGUE: “Wow, you did so well in that 10km fun run!”
YOU: “Thanks, I ran a personal best – I’m really happy with that!”
FRIEND: “I wish I could play guitar like you. You’re amazing!”
YOU: “Thanks – I practice every day – it’s helped me improve a lot.”
CAR PASSENGER: “Nice parallel park.”
YOU: “YOU KNOW IT!!”
(Ok, maybe you can be a douche every now and again ;))
I strongly encourage you to give it a go. The more you practice receiving compliments gracefully, the easier it will get. And then it will become second nature. And your confidence in your own abilities will grow.
So go out there, own what you’re good at, and say ‘thank you’. You deserve it, rock star!
(Oh, and if you want to further build your confidence when receiving compliments and making small talk, join my free Small Talk Made Simple class. Simply pop your name and email in the box below!)
People see me in a different light than I see myself.
I’m looking too close, while they see the whole version of me.
I didn’t always accept compliments with grace. It’s hard to accept one when you don’t agree with it.
But over time, I’ve grown into security, and made more friends, by being conscious of how I respond to a compliment.
Now when I receive one, I accept it easily, without saying anything to bring myself or the person giving me the compliment, down.
After spending an hour styling my hair, without cooperation, I fretfully gave up. Heading off to the party, I slid on a headband and ran out the door.
At the party, an acquaintance approached, “I like your hair like that,” she said.
Unhappy with my mane, averting my eyes toward the ceiling, and awkwardly brushing my fingers through my hair, I said,
“oh, I just threw this up.”
She smiled, but said nothing further.
Did I just say, “I threw this up”?
After spending a few seconds internally mortified, I walked away to refill my glass with wine.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, I painted each fingernail with a hot red polish, wiping the edges as best I could.
The left hand painted much better than the right. Waving my hands around to dry them, and carefully grabbing my keys, I headed off to another party.
While holding a glass of wine, I could feel people staring at my hands as we talked.
I held my composure for a while, and tried to hide my hands, but then it happened.
While standing with a group of friends and acquaintances, one said, “I love that color nail polish!”
Immediately, I pointed out where I had messed up, and how “I just couldn’t get the fingernails on my right hand painted as good as the left.”
I was embarrassed about my amateurish polishing job.
And worse, embarrassed by the look on the faces of the people around me.
Luckily, the conversation moved on, but I stood there unable to hear what was being said, and unable to join in after that.
It connects us to one another.
I don’t want to hurt my chances of a connection by giving a lousy, insecure, response.
No more pointing out my faults.
No more putting myself down.
No more putting their effort to compliment me, down.
People are trying to be nice to me.
Compliments can make everyone involved feel good. If they are handled with care.
So, even when I’m not feelin’ it, I appreciate it, and give joy back to others with a humble “thank you.”
*If you like what you read, please 💚 and share it with others** and have a good day!
You could reply with 'That's so kind of you to say — she is pretty great.' This way you are not just saying thank you as if it was a compliment to.
The responses can go one of three ways. One is deflection: responding with “oh it was nothing” or “it’s not as good as it could be,” or some other reaction negating the compliment. The thinking, says Owen, is that “if I agree with the compliment, I may look like I’m full of myself, and have a big ego.”
The second common response is to prattle on, which is its own form of deflection. If someone has told you how well your presentation went, you launch into the entire saga of your childhood stage fright, and your speeches that bombed in the past. This is also problematic, as “nobody wants to be lassoed into listening to a monologue just because they said something nice to you,” Owen says.
Finally, people can give compliments too much weight. Self-help guru Dale Carnegie identified compliments as a key strategy in his classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Nothing else so inspires and heartens people as words of appreciation,” he wrote. While he wasn’t suggesting flattery for evil ends, compliments can be an effective form of manipulation. You’re more likely to buy when the salesman tells you how great that jacket looks.
So how can you take a compliment well? “If someone says something nice to you, a really great response is to simply say thank you,” says Owen. This is easier said than done, of course, but there are a few ways to change your thinking about it.
First, you do not have to agree with the compliment or agree with the motivations for a simple “thank you” to be the right response. There are many tragedies in the world and yet in this world of woe, someone has paused in their day to say something nice. “It’s such a great thing when you think about it,” says Owen.
We can be happy about this small moment of good for its own sake. “It’s just about expressing gratitude,” says Owen. “I don’t think we need to complicate it.” When viewed this way, “The other person’s motivations are not important, just as your own inner life in the exact moment a compliment is received is not really important either.”
You do not have to feel great about yourself in order to thank the person for introducing some positive vibes into the universe. Nor do you have to change any boundaries, or change any decisions you have made about what to do (such as not buying that jacket) because of this moment of positivity.
As for the prattling on, that is because many people find it difficult to see “thank you” as a full sentence. It certainly can be a full thought on its own. But if you want to say something else, you can always add “I appreciate your saying that.” Then continue with the conversation, perhaps asking how the other person developed an interest in this topic you are talking about. Your motto should be “give generously, receive graciously,” Owen says. If you do, you’re more likely to continue to receive compliments in the future.
It will be good and sweet if you say thank you to someone for a compliment. You can say thank you for compliment with standard response like.