Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Politely Accepting Compliments

 Don’t do that. Do this instead.

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them... This article is part of Hilary Robinson’s “Don’t do that. Do this instead series.”

Compliments are lovely. We all like to hear nice things about ourselves, don’t we?

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them.

Justify a compliment: DON’T DO THAT

Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment when someone pays us a compliment we find ourselves slightly embarrassed; we stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating.

Often the conversations go something like this:

‘Job well done!’ …‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’

Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions. When we make excuses and try to rationalize the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Say ‘thank you’

There is, however, a lovely, simple and gracious way to deal with the situation: say ‘thank you’. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to expound, you don’t have to justify why, you just need to say thank you.

‘Job well done!’ …‘Thank you.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Thank you.’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Thank you.’

Keep in mind that people don’t have to say anything; so when they pay you a compliment, pay them the compliment of accepting it graciously.


You’re now asking yourself if it’s really that easy, aren’t you? Well, I gave this advice to my lovely friend Karen, and here’s what she told someone else about our conversation…and in doing so, she paid me a compliment (thank you, Karen):

“I once mentioned to Hilary that I found it very difficult to accept compliments. Every time anyone said something positive to me, about me I found myself denying it, justifying myself or making a joke. Which inevitably ruined the intent of the comment and sometimes made things awkward. Hilary looked at me and said, ‘All you have to do is say thank you’. Simple, obvious, brilliant. I trusted Hilary and tried it out, it works. In one sentence she solved what was becoming a regular stumbling block in my professional and personal interactions.”

An especially big thank you to my mum, who taught it to me in the first place.

Use these two simple words and you will be thought of as gracious, polished and professional.

Hilary Robinson is the Senior Trainer and Owner of Polished Professionals in Toronto, Polished Professionals Canada. With her background, spent running events for Prime Ministers, CEOs and academics (in the UK and Canada), one might think that she’s all about following the rules. However, she prefers to train people to understand their parameters, what it means to follow them, what advantages there are in knowing how and when to bend them, and the value in using good manners to put others at ease. With 20 years working worldwide in events and communications, Hilary believes manners and courtesy are not only powerful communication tools but the foundations on which self-confidence and success grow.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

No comments:

Post a Comment