Getting a compliment is good for you. Science has proven that people perform tasks better, have improved memory, and feel happy after being complimented.
What many of us don’t know is how to accept a compliment gracefully.
If you’re getting such a nice boost, why is it so hard?
A couple of frustrating reasons have come to light in psychological circles.
- Your view of yourself doesn’t line up with the compliment. Put another way, you could lack the confidence to accept the compliment comfortably.
- You totally agree with the compliment, but don’t want put the other person off by seeming TOO confident.
Every human being on earth has likely felt both of these ways, depending on the subject matter of the compliment. At any given moment I feel good about some aspects of myself, and shaky about others. But either way, the compliment can cause me to feel uncomfortable!
I want that to end.
Compliments have too much going to for them to cause angst.
To help me formulate a plan for accepting compliments graciously, I reached out to a number of women I look up to, and asked for the word-for-word scripts they use to make compliment acceptance a breeze.
How to Accept a Compliment
By Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, Founder of PawCurious
The more I try to respond or fill the space, the more I end up sticking my foot in my mouth.
The Script: I make a very conscientious effort to look the person in the eye, give them a heartfelt “Thank you. I really appreciate that!” and then stop talking.
Return the Favor
By: Lavanya Sunkara, Travel Writer
It’s all about reciprocity for me.
The Script: When others give me compliments, I usually say, “Thanks,” and if I have something to compliment them about, I will try to do so.
Enjoy the High
By Kaia Roman, author of The Joy Plan
I used to have a hard time receiving a compliment, always minimizing or deflecting because I felt self-conscious and undeserving. But then I learned about the physical mechanisms behind both giving and receiving compliments and I changed my ways. Compliments release dopamine in the brain, for both the giver and the receiver. And dopamine feels like a pleasure rush that is highly enjoyable!
If I didn’t let myself truly receive the compliment, I’d be missing out on this drug-free high.
Likewise, if I minimized the compliment from the giver, I’d be taking away their joy by turning an appreciative exchange into an awkward one. So now, when someone gives me a compliment, I think about the benefit they are receiving from that act of kindness and I do my best to amp up the effect so they’ll do it again for someone else. The world needs as many compliments as we can give!
The Script: “Thank you, that made my day.” or “Thank you, that was so nice of you to notice.”
I smile and let the dopamine soak in for both of us.
Go for Seconds
By Dorri Olds, Freelance Writer and Journalist
I was the youngest of three girls and was born a ham. I love attention—thrive on it really. So I’ve never been one to shy away from any limelight I can grab.
The Script: When somebody gives me a compliment I grin ear-to-ear and say, “Thank you!” I figure that’s like positive reinforcement. If their compliment is met with an enthusiastic response, then they will be more likely to compliment me again, right?
Take a Pause
By Jessica Remitz, Managing Editor, PawCulture.com
I am working on taking a beat to curb my knee-jerk “aw shucks” reaction. A friend of mine told me that she’d almost stopped complimenting other women because we’re so quick to brush them off, almost to the point of embarrassment. so I think it’s important to acknowledge to the other person on how nice a compliment is to hear—because it truly is.
The Script: I have begun looking directly at my complimenter (in a not creepy or adversarial way) and saying, “Thank you for noticing my [item of clothing/well-behaved dog/completed work project]. I appreciate you saying something, and worked hard to [find said item/raise a polite dog/go above and beyond].”
Split the Difference
By Talia Argondezzi, Director, Writing and Speaking Program at Ursinus College
In the case where accepting a compliment feels very unnatural, and almost impossible to do, it can be rude and awkward to just deny the praise you were given. Instead, take a baby step and challenge yourself by trying to split the difference. For instance, you might accept what was said, but then make a funny remark, or even self-deprecating one, but only on something you DO feel confident about.
“I like your glasses.”
“Thank you. Like Rick Perry, I’m trying to wear my glasses more so people will think I’m smart.”
Keep It Simple
By Victoria Schade, Dog Trainer and Author
Since directly turning down a compliment can be a way of telling a person, “Nope, you’re wrong about that,” I try to accept it gracefully and then move on.
The Script: “Thank you, it’s my favorite scarf/blouse/shoes/whatever!” is an easy way to acknowledge the person’s compliment, or “That’s so kind of you to say,” or if someone compliments my writing I might respond with, “Thank you, that means a lot!”
By Aly Semigran, Writer and Editor
I had a recent experience with this with someone saying, “You deserve a good guy.” It was a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile and I caught them up with my most recent terrible dating experience and they told me, sincerely, “You deserve a good guy.”
The Script: I responded with, “Thank you. It’s taken me a long time to realize that.”
I didn’t bitch and moan “Oh there’s no good guys out there,” rather I acknowledged they saw something in me that’s taken me 32 years to accept. I think it’s rare to tell someone you agree with them about a positive side of yourself, but I think in this case, especially because so much time had passed, it caught us up on where I am now.
On Giving Compliments
By Cheyenne Gil, Body Positive Boudoir Photographer
When it comes to GIVING compliments (which I also think is a great step in your self love journey), give a compliment that you truly mean, and give it without putting yourself down in the process.
The Script: For instance, say you love someone’s hair. All you have to say is, “Wow, I love your hair! It’s beautiful,” NOT, “Wow, I love your hair! It’s so beautiful! My hair is so blah. I need to change it. But your hair is just so nice!”
Now that you know exactly what to say, check out: