Compliments Make You Feel Uncomfortable? Read This!

Oftentimes, receiving a compliment can feel pretty awkward. Research has shown that receiving praise, a compliment or a positive work review can have the same effect on someone as receiving a cash award. But if this is really the case, then why don’t we find the whole experience more, well, pleasant?

Unfortunately, most of us aren't born with social graces. Some people easily respond to compliments with quick, appreciative gesture; the rest of us, however, often become flustered and stammer out the first response we can think of.

Here's How to Respond

If your boss or coworker compliments your work: – Thank you! I really appreciate the feedback. – That's so good to hear! I'm glad [it turned out well/you were pleased with the end result/our hard work paid off]. – Thank you!

Here's How to Respond

If someone compliments your appearance: – Thank you! – Thank you for noticing, I [insert detail here, such as “I just bought the blouse this weekend,” or “I thought I'd try a new color, glad it's working!” or “I found it at the new vintage store downtown.”]. – Thank you so much; that made my day!

Why are we so bad at accepting compliments?

The reasons are varied, ranging from not wanting to appear big-headed or vain to not wanting to be seen as taking the credit for something we may not have been totally responsible for. Perhaps you may struggle with Imposter Syndrome and feel that the work you’ve done doesn’t deserve praise for that reason, or maybe you’re just suspicious of flattery. 

No matter how uncomfortable it may feel, recognize the gesture with grace and gratitude.

If you are given a compliment in person, it’s always important that you first and foremost communicate gratitude by saying “thank you” to the other party directly, ideally accompanied with eye contact, a positive demeanor, and a friendly smile.

Don’t give in to the urge to just throw a compliment back at the other party.

First and foremost, resist your urge to just “shrug it off” and use those immortal words of “Oh, it was nothing.” You may think you are being modest in saying that, but in reality you are potentially diminishing the feedback the person has just provided you. Worse still, it may be seen as a sign that you are actually “fishing” for more compliments (yikes!).