Two students chatting and sitting side by side, with their laptops
January 19, 2022
3 mins read

The art of taking a compliment

I love to shower my friends with compliments. It's a quick and genuine way to show that I care about and admire them as individuals. However, when it comes to accepting compliments, I get pretty awkward. 

In the past, when people complimented me, my natural reaction was to make a derpy face before trying to brush off their praise with an awkward laugh.

It’s not that I hate validating statements; it’s more that I don’t know how to respond in a way that properly communicates how I appreciate their praise while also staying #humble.

I never thought too much about my default reaction—until I started noticing how I felt when friends rejected my compliments towards them.

If you think about it, compliments are like small presents from a friend. If you made a face or brushed off the present, how do you think your friend would feel? By changing how we view compliments, we can find ways to give and receive them with less awkwardness.

So, if your natural response is to nervously laugh off compliments that come your way, below are some simple things you can try saying instead—to receive compliments with more grace!

“Oh, that was nothing.”

Have you ever used that phrase when a friend congratulated you on an accomplishment? This response can make it seem like you’re undermining their compliment and could possibly make your friend feel like they’ve been rejected.

Instead, consider saying, “Thank you! That’s really nice of you to say.”

Know your worth—your friend is acknowledging your effort and accomplishments, so don’t devalue or undercut their opinions. Even if you don’t see what you’ve done as a major achievement, accepting congratulations and praise can be motivating. It doesn’t hurt to celebrate the little victories as well!

And pass on the praise, too. Relationships thrive when we celebrate the growth of our friends, and not just ourselves (like this guy).

“No, you’re so much better than me at this.”

As an act of humility, you might be tempted to belittle yourself when, for example, you’re in a professional environment and a colleague expresses admiration for your skill or talent. But, again, know your worth!

Responding with the above might also put the compliment giver in an uncomfortable situation of having to deflect your praise.

Try saying, “That means a lot coming from you!”

Not only have you thanked them, but you’ve shown that you acknowledge their opinion as someone whom you respect and admire. This is also another way to avoid going into a “compliment battle” where both sides are just throwing possibly half-hearted compliments at each other.

“That was all just luck,” or “This was all _____’s work and not mine at all.”

When other people are involved in your accomplishments, it’s easy to credit someone else when you feel uncomfortable in the spotlight.

Instead, respond with, “Thanks! I appreciate that, I’ll tell _____ as well.”

Accepting praise and sharing it with those involved will help you build a community of supportive friends. When we can openly talk about what we admire about the other person and receive the same in return, we empower both them and ourselves.

Don’t be afraid to call out your friends if they’re rejecting your compliments. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your effort, or at least know they can comfortably discuss being awkward about praise with you.

If your awkward self still wants to disappear when you get complimented, just remember to say a simple thank you before you run!

Header photo credit: UBC Okanagan University Relations