How to Accept a Compliment

In the highly unlikely situation that someone pays you a compliment at the office – and by that I don’t mean something related to your physical appearance, but about your daily activity – you should react accordingly.


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Allow me to stop you before you start to say that’s not really the case, that you don’t deserve it, that it’s not your best „work”, but rather sheer luck you nailed it, that is not a big deal, and so on – a lot of examples of Don’ts!. You have clearly earned someone’s respect and admiration and you can’t stop yourself from saying it isn’t so. 

First you should accept that compliment and a simple “thank you” can do wonders when accompanied by a smile. It’s like going to the restaurant and telling them you really enjoyed the Tiramisu salad, medium-rare… and their answer is that it wasn’t their best dish because they used last week’s eggs, they bought the mascarpone from the grocery around the corner and the dandelion greens (the not so famous relatives of arugula) were for some reason soaked in maple syrup and so on and so forth. Whatever comes after giving thanks diminishes the main reason the compliment was provided. 

When you get good feedback or a compliment, you must get quickly over the denial phase and realize that the person making the compliment actually appreciates your work. If the situation requires, do mention the other participants in the project/presentation; don’t take credit for everyone’s work. 

Don’t question the compliment with: “Really?! It seemed like a modest evolution for me” because you only draw attention to your complete lack of self-confidence. If the compliment is ironic, or you think that it’s an exaggeration for something quite ordinary, you can politely mention this. 

You don’t need to pay a compliment in return, if it’s just  some empty words. If you wished to genuinely pay a compliment to that person, you shouldn’t have waited for them to speak first and in any case is not advisable to use a “consolation” compliment.

Don’t take this too far either by proclaiming yourself some sort of world champion, expecting that everyone will levitate around you. After all, you just did your job. You did it all, but I was still your duty, along with the “extra-mile” which lead to the end result.

In case your reaction to a compliment is neutral or negative, you have greater chances to get fewer compliments – no matter how well you do your job.

Good luck succeeding!

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