Can I Give You a Compliment?

More importantly, can you take a compliment? For some people, I think they almost know how to deal with an insult better than a little appreciation. The conversation goes like this:

Me: “That is a really sharp outfit.”

Them: “Oh, this old thing?”

Me: “No, really, it’s a great color and very flattering.”

Them: “What!? It makes my butt look fat.”

Obviously, this is a conversation with a woman, haha. But I’ve had similar experiences with men.

Me: “Hey, that is a great tie.”

Them (looking at the tie with a perplexed expression): “What? Oh …”

When someone gives you a compliment, they are showing appreciation or gratitude. They are expressing their liking for you by noticing your clothes, jewelry, office furnishings, car or other material items. In commending your hard work, they are telling you that they are aware and responsive to what you are doing.

When you turn around and dismiss the compliment with “Oh, this is ugly” or “Really? I hate this desk” or “It wasn’t a big deal, anyone could do it” you are telling them that they are stupid, have bad taste, and don’t know what they’re talking about.

Now that’s definitely not what you mean. Mom taught us to not brag. Or we don’t know where to take the conversation from there. For many of us, it’s just a bad habit.

You need to break this habit and learn to be gracious in receiving compliments. They are giving you a gift. You need to accept that gift. Otherwise you are rejecting their opinion, their generosity, and ultimately … them.

What should you do when someone gives you a compliment?

Say “Thank you” in a very pleased tone of voice and then move the conversation to the next topic.
“Oh, why thank you. Hey, have you met Bob?”

Say “Thank you” and then compliment something of theirs or something that they’ve done. But be very careful because it could seem insincere.
“Thank you. I was admiring your jacket. What a great color.”
“Thank you. I appreciate you being here. You’ve helped make this mixer a success.”

Say “Thank you” and then tell them something interesting about the item.
“Thank you. This was my grandmother’s ring and it’s very special to me.” (This is my favorite because it makes the conversation a little more meaningful and they feel even better since they noticed something that was special to you.)

Are you now ready to take a compliment?

You’re a great blog reader. You’ve helped me talk about some very important networking topics.

Now … be gracious and say “thank you!”

Photo from Flickr by Daquella Manera


  1. Beth,
    I like the idea of accepting a compliment and saying something interesting about the event/item/style.

    Don't you just HATE it though, when the compliment comes about something you feel real dumb about: Just noticed the tie had a stain, bad hair day, only 1/2 the folks you expected showed up, etc.?

    When you are already self-conscious about a particular event, it is more difficult to be gracious – which is the ‘why’ behind many compliments getting more ‘put down’ than accepted, I think. Perhaps if we are to be better networkers, (or compliment receivers), it starts with us accepting ourselves for the value we bring to the table.

    And THANK YOU for the compliment of what a good blog reader I am! I learned to read in a one-room school house on the frozen prairies of Canada.

  2. Good point. Not accepting a compliment is more about themselves than the person giving the compliment.

    It just goes to show you that even when we don't like something, don't feel good, or only see our own errors others see us in a much better light and much kinder way than we do ourselves.

    So instead of saying thank you for the compliment, you are actually thanking them for being positive and kind!

  3. Interesting topic and conversation.. I love visiting your blogs.. Your post is to the point and i enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing..