For some reason we have the horrible habit of feeling uncomfortable when compliments are bestowed upon us. As if our stuttering to accept the compliment wasn’t enough of an embarrassment, we further blight the situation with a rushed and disingenuous reciprocal compliment. Yet, as we all know there are few things more flattering than a sincere compliment and few things as transparent as a false one.
So how do we gracefully receive compliments without feeling obligated to reciprocate?
- Thank you: When you receive a compliment, be it big or small, a simple thank you is the most modest and graceful way to acknowledge the compliment. Forget your “thank you” and you will come across as snobbish and perhaps burn your bridge to future compliments
- Validate: For the most sincere or personally touching compliments, we often feel like an explanation is due. An explanation should parallel the depth and importance of the compliment. “Cute shoes” from a stranger hardly requires more than “thank you,” but “It looks like you’ve lost a ton of weight; you look fabulous” from a friend justifies a bit more of a response such as, “Thank you, I’ve been following a new work out routine.”
- Refrain from thoughtless reciprocity: For some reason, it is challenging to stop from the automated reciprocal compliment. More often than not, a flippant return compliment never resonates as well as the first.
- Leading compliments: More alarming, often there are leading compliments doled out insincerely in hopes of a return compliment. Shame on these people, and shame on you if you indulge them! If you get the sense that you compliment was given with mal-intent, simple acknowledge the compliment and do you best to redirect the conversation.
And may I say, you have a gorgeous smile!