How to Accept a Compliment

Do compliments make you feel awkward? Lisa B. Marshall, a.k.a. the Public Speaker, will show you how to accept compliments with grace and improve your relationships.

Lisa B. Marshall,
October 2, 2015
Episode #313

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Many people love to receive compliments, but some people find it awkward for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people are afraid accepting a compliment will make them look conceited. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing how to respond. And sometimes it’s caused by an underlying low self-esteem. But because accepting compliments is critical, I’d like to give you a few suggestions to help you do it graciously.

Three Ways People Respond to Compliments

According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, there are three basic ways people respond when they receive a compliment.

1, Passively

 If someone says to you, “That was a great presentation!” and your response is something like, “Yeah. Um, what’s the weather report?” you are ignoring that compliment. If you say, “Actually, John did all the work,” you are deflecting it. If, however, you respond, “Well, I love your tie!” you are reflecting it back. All of these responses are passive ways of rejecting the compliment you were given.

2. Aggressively

That same compliment might draw a response of sarcasm, like, “Oh, yeah, right! Really great!” or denial, “Are you kidding? I stunk out there!” which are more aggressive rejections of the person’s comments.

3, Assertively

This is when you listen to the compliment and accept it graciously.

The Negative Effects of Rejecting a Compliment

When someone compliments you and you do not respond graciously, you can damage your relationship. You make the person feel awkward and have questioned that person’s judgment. Even worse, you've stalled or even hampered your future relationship with that person, because you've created this negative experience.

Besides that, if you deflect or deny that compliment, you're downplaying your own skills and abilities. This is hardly a good career move! And you may be sending some very negative messages about your personality: you will be seen as socially awkward, under-confident, or perhaps bad tempered. It’s crucial to overcome this tendency to reject compliments, and in the process, reject the person complimenting you.


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