How To Accept A Compliment

complimentsDo you know what one of the most desired skills employers look for in new hires? Communication skills. While the obvious “hard”communication skills are the ability to speak and write to an audience there are also quite a few “soft” communication skills that just about anyone can master. How to graciously accept a compliment is one of those.

Ever heard the phrase “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”? I’m sure you have, and like many proverbs that have been around for centuries the actual meaning of this particular statement is not immediately clear. As horses age they grow more teeth and their existing teeth begin to change shape and project further forward, so looking at the horse’s mouth is one way of determining its age. Therefore, the obvious meaning of the proverb is to not question gifts but to accept them graciously.

OK, so why the etymology lesson? Because most of us are insulting the givers of gifts on a regular basis without even realizing it.

As a society we are lousy at receiving compliments. In fact, we are often downright insulting. Just as being a good speaker and listener can open doors for you, the ability to be gracious is one that will enhance not only your career goals, but your life in general. Now think back to the last time you received a compliment. Maybe it was about a project at work, a home renovation job, or simply a new shirt. Chances are your response was either to deflect or be self-deprecating.

“Hey, you got a new haircut. Looks good!

“Well, I had to do something to salvage it.”


“You did great in the meeting this afternoon.”

“You think so? I thought I really bombed in there.”

Don’t worry, it is natural and we all do it. However, when we get a compliment, it is a gift and we should stop deflecting and start accepting. If you really think about it by rejecting a compliment you are implying that the giver of said compliment is not qualified to give one. Ouch. Luckily, accepting a compliment graciously is easy. In fact it only takes one word, “thanks”. There really is no occasion where a simple thanks or thank you won’t fit the bill, but if you feel the need for a little more here are a couple other response that you should start training yourself to use.

“You did great in the meeting this afternoon.”

“Thanks, I really enjoyed it.”


“Hey, you got a new haircut. Looks good!”

“Thanks for noticing. It was time for something different.”

Having great people skills doesn’t come naturally to everyone, especially if you are an introvert (I am painfully introverted, so I know from whence I speak). But the situation is not hopeless as there are concrete things we can practice and improve upon. Learning to accept compliments is one of them.

And by the way, thanks for reading, you clearly have great taste!

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