nce, my brother wanted to be nice and hold the door for people as they passed by. Many people passed by, so in the name of unwritten rules of cordiality, he held the door for many people and was late to class. Let’s face it, being nice to people can get awkward like that sometimes. Take, for instance, a simple compliment of “you look nice today.” The person may respond with: “thank you,” you too, “right back at ya” or “I know I do.” The latter sounds the most prideful and snobbish. So, what do you do to navigate compliments without playing the compliment dozens, feeling yourself too much, or the spiral back and forth of “thank you,” “no thank yous.”
Compliments take many forms verbal, non-verbal, via social media, in articles, you name it! Compliments literally can increase your health and brighten your day, so if they are received in a non-awkward way, then they can be wonderful for you. They can even make relationships more positive, lift bad moods, foster your learning to motivate towards certain goals, and increase your happiness. While there are several case studies and research experiments that confirm that compliments, just notice how you generally feel when you receive one.
They are like gems sometimes when you are working hard to be the best you, you can be. For example, after failing at job interview after job interview because I did not stand out as a candidate or not expressing myself how I wanted to represent myself, I was down. After practicing on my interviewing skills by booting my resume, giving my cover letter some reconstructive surgery, and conducting mock-interviews, I worked to schedule other interviews. The most heartwarming things to hear, after all the work I had done were, wow you are extremely professional, what you have accomplished is amazing, your self-awareness is stellar. Not only did this boost my mood, but I took many screenshots of these emails to power through the hard times ahead.
In this article, we provide you the following: a guide to compliment etiquette and balancing genuine responses. Most of us when we receive a compliment can feel awkward like we owe one back, or so humble that you are like: to whom are you referring, moi? Oh no, not me-type routines. Then there are those who are less graceful with the compliment and ooze too much confidence where it airs on the side of arrogance. Additionally, we will break down for you how to take a compliment if you are a super confident person or the other extreme of being a very insecure person.
Guide to Compliment Etiquette
Receiving Praise With Grace
When receiving a compliment, do not overthink. The person’s intention is to let you know that they appreciate you, your outfit is poppin’, or let you know that they are into you. Grace for some may be a stretch, but we suggest the following in receiving compliments:
- Express your gratitude and let them know that what they said made your day. No matter what, be genuine with your response.
- Share the credit if applicable. Let it be recognized when you are being complimented because of the team’s win. When you turn an individual compliment into a collective one, it takes the pressure off.
- Make sure your body language reflects your gratitude and not awkwardness. For instance, look open to receive the person’s compliment (i.e. unfolded arms or uncomfortable-looking face)
- Try to not undermine your compliment or invalidate it by following up with “oh it was nothing,” “who me?,” or “It’s not that great.” This sometimes makes the compliment feel forced or that you are fishing for more. Nobody likes a compliment-fisher because it makes you seem arrogant.
- Do not enter the battle of the compliments because nobody wins. When you receive a compliment, just know that if you see the person again that you will return the favor in due time. There is no need to compliment them back because they complimented you first. It makes your compliments seem not genuine.
- Pay it forward at some point. Feel free to compliment people who deserve it by doing something that you genuinely admire. This can be the person that complimented you (do it at a different time and compliment based on situational outcomes) or to someone completely different. Instead of battling compliment with complement, pass on the positivity to someone else. Here are tips on giving compliments and many compliments that you can prepare to give someone at the appropriate time, place, and with great delivery.
Have Some Humble Pie
How to Take Compliments if You Naturally Lead With Confidence
Let’s face it, sometimes you put on an outfit that is supa dupa fly and you just know that somebody will stop and ask you where to get your outfit or that someone will say wow that color brings out your eyes. While that may be true, giving people a sneak peek into that confidence while receiving a compliment may be tricky. Sometimes it comes off egotistical and that is not the look you want to go for.
In this specific case it is best to say thank you and a way to ooze confidence in a subtle and humble way is to say would you like for me how to show you where I got it from or we should totally talk about this. If you are expecting compliments ask yourself why. Maybe you should go crazy during your morning affirmations to make yourself feel good and not expect someone else to do that for you. Do that in a way that is friendly, bubbly, helpful, and most of all humble. Please read the situation though because we want you to come off as the authentic you and not that you want to make someone your charity case because that is not fun either.
You Deserve Every Word of These Compliments
“Oh, Who Me?” People: Compliments for the Less Confident
We get it, you are more of a behind-the-scenes person or someone who likes to avoid the spotlight. This may be because of insecurity, social anxiety, or introvertedness. According to the Huffington Post, introverts have a hard time receiving compliments because of self-image issues as affirmed when they say, “Paradoxically when they receive compliments, they sometimes feel less positive about themselves and the person who complimented them.” It may seem that when compliments come your way, it puts you in the spotlight or highlights some insecurity you may have that someone else finds a great thing. Instead of jumping into the whole woe-is-me rabbit hole, notice the truth in the compliment. Someone noticed that you are succeeding, looking good, and projecting goodness and positivity. Allow that to signal to you to not be so down about yourself, but remind yourself that you are great!
However you feel, your humility is often the default. Make sure that your humility comes across well because having humility is great but that often reads as wanting someone to pump you full of compliments so that you feel better when really your intention is to not have all eyes on you.
We suggest that you humbly say thank you (variations: thank you that is so kind, thanks it was great being involved with this, and thank you I appreciate the compliment) and change the subject if need be. Brush off the pressure to say a compliment back and or leading with your insecurities in the things you say after receiving compliments. Also, a great thing to do depending on the situation to take the pressure off is that it is best that you share the compliment with everyone. If someone gives a toast to you for organizing an event, reply with thank you and shout out to the caterers, people attending, and all who made this success possible for you.
We want to affirm you that you are smart, you are kind, you are important, there is nothing that you cannot do, you look good, and you are an amazing person inside and out. Yes, those are compliments. You are awesome, deal with it! How bout them apples?
Hero image courtesy of Merriam Webster.