Photo by Renée S. Suen

Photo by Renée S. Suen

You say “please” and “thank you”. Of course you do. It’s ingrained into us early, and by-and-large, most of us mind our manners and teach these basics to our children as soon as they start to interact with others.

But when it comes to accepting compliments, we chronically forget our manners. It happens at parties, at home and at the office.

I get it; accepting compliments well can be uncomfortable or even confusing. So here’s a little quiz: How would you instinctively respond to the following compliments?

– A party guest remarks: “You’re a great dancer!”

You say:
a) Ha! Hardly.You clearly don’t get out much.
b) You must have been fooled by the fancy dip at the end.
c) My partner can make anyone look good on the dance floor.
d) So are you!
e) Thank you.

– Your spouse notices: “You look great in that sweater.”

You say:
a) You like anything I wear that isn’t black.
b) Shows what high quality fabric can do.
c) I didn’t pick it. It was a gift.
d) I like your sweater too!
e) Thank you.

– Your manager says “This report is really well organized!”

You say:
a) Seriously? It has a long way to go before I’d call it “well organized”.
b) I used the expensive coloured dividers!
c) I had very little to do with it. It was all the team’s work.
d) Your reports are always immaculate.
e) Thank you.

If your go-to response is anything other than “thank you”, you might consider building a new habit. One who offers a compliment has put him/herself out there to offer their opinion and the polite thing to do is to thank them for doing so. Anything different may make them feel wrong, not listened to or dismissed, which is an awful thing to get in return for trying to do something nice. So don’t take a chance, even for the sake of trying to be modest, funny or fair.

If inspired to do so, you can certainly add something to your “thank you”. This comment might be something further about you, or about their compliment. Some examples:

Compliment: “You’re a great dancer”
About you: “Thank you. I love dancing.”
About them:  “Thank you. That’s really kind.”

Compliment: “You look great in that sweater”
About you: “Thanks. I’ve been looking out for it on sale and it finally happened yesterday.”
About them: “Thanks. You’re my best confidence booster.”

Compliment: “This report is really well organized!”
About you: “Thank you. A lot of work went into it.”
About them: “Thank you. Your opinion means a lot.”

“Thank you” does not mean “I know”. It doesn’t even have to mean “I agree.” It is simply means you appreciate them giving you the compliment.  Accepting compliments graciously demonstrates confidence, openness, respect for others and for yourself. It makes you look good. And if you let it, a compliment can make you feel great, too.