How To Take a Compliment

Chances are that if you put a little time and effort into your style and grooming, you are going to get some compliments. Actually, you will definitely get some compliments. A lot of them. And sometimes from random strangers. If you are unaccustomed to this phenomenon it can definitely catch you off guard and leave you speechless. Here are a few tips on how to take a compliment with style, grace, and humility.

Say, “Thank you!” Someone has just complimented you, which is definitely nice and something you appreciate. So let them know! A simple “thank you” works in any situation. If they’ve hit on something that you have put some extra care or thought into, a genuine “I really appreciate that,” or “That means a lot” is great to add as well. And be sure to make eye contact and smile when you tell them.

Don’t Play it Down. In an effort to be humble, our knee jerk reaction can be to be dismissive: “Oh, this? it’s nothing,” and so on. But by saying something to that effect, you are basically telling the person who has just complimented you that they don’t know what they are talking about. Part of the reason someone compliments you is not only to make you feel good, but also for them to show you that they have a keen eye and sense of style. So even if you don’t mean it, an attempt to be humble by playing something down can come across as dismissive, arrogant, and pretentious.

Don’t One-Up or Out-Compliment. This one goes hand in hand with the previous tip. You might be trying to be polite, but out complimenting or one-upping, especially if it is an immediate reaction, can appear disingenuous. It also indirectly discounts the original compliment given to you. It is definitely okay to want to repay a compliment, just make sure the timing is right.

Have a Good Small Talk Game. I would put this in the “advanced” category because it is definitely not a skill that everyone has innately—I am generally a card carrying member of that club. However, for those who doubt their abilities in this area: you will get better at it with practice. The more compliments you get, the more practice you get. And eventually you build a repertoire of material that works for you depending on the chemistry of the situation. Having a little humor in your bag doesn’t hurt either.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian
He Spoke Style

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  • Seth Nelson

    I get this. As a concert artist (and especially as a church musician), receiving an abundance of compliments well is something I regularly strive to do. Being my own worst critic, it is a constant struggle to not “play down” the compliment. It is equally important not to agree and brag about my performance, and it is equally important not to let the compliments go to my head. I’m finding the same is true for attire.