The Art of Receiving Compliments

Came across this article by LisaMarie Luccioni on the Business Insider: How to Take Compliments. In summary, the key points are:

1. Accept compliments with magical words that have worked for compliments past, present, and future: “Thank you.”

2. If the compliment is the result of a collaborative effort, acknowledge the team’s contributions.

3. If the compliment is a professional tribute (a type of ceremonial speaking), you may receive a tangible item such as a trophy, certificate, or plaque. Accept with your left hand, which keeps your right hand free for a proper handshake.

4. When receiving compliments, demonstrate appropriate nonverbal cues.

5. Don’t disconfirm someone’s compliment. Examples include “It was nothing,” “It’s not a big deal,” “Don’t worry about it”, etc. When a compliment is authentically given, it should be gracefully received. Fight the urge to downplay the compliment, which may be read as a personal rejection.

6. If you receive a compliment, fight the urge to “out-compliment.”

7. If you’re complimented with a toast, demonstrate proper protocol. Toast recipients do not themselves drink. Acknowledge the toast (a head nod and smile, for example), allow everyone to have a sip of beverage, and then offer a return toast (where you can then drink).

8. Forward the light! Compliment others when praise is warranted.

9. The proliferation of social media means compliments now arrive through different means. Written, spoken, blogged, Twittered, or Facebooked, you’ve been highlighted and there’s an acceptance protocol.


Like all etiquettes,  this list of how-tos is contextual. Cultural norms aside, I could envisage that many of the points would work in most business and social situations. I will admit that No. 7 is quite a stranger to me, so it’s good to know (not that I’m expecting to be complimented with a toast!)

The flipside of No. 5 is a common mistake that I have been guilty of and perhaps quite common in the Asian context (any thoughts on this?) Accepting a compliment is as much an art as giving compliments. Lesson: embrace that moment of spotlight on you! (And yes, this is a shameless announcement that henceforth I shall wholeheartedly welcome all compliments – so let the praises flood!)

I personally like No. 8. I recall how instantly my day can be brightened up by just a compliment even over the smallest thing.

Ok, ok, I’m off to make someone else’s day! And to put Nos. 9 and 1 into practice – thanks for being interested enough in my blog to stop by!


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