12 Tips for Giving and Accepting Compliments Graciously

Compliments can make you feel good about yourself, or they can make you cringe. If you feel awkward being in the spotlight, turn the situation around with these handy tips.

Pretty soon you’ll be basking in praise and showering kind words on those around you.

How Does Giving More Compliments Help?

Giving compliments is one of the most effective ways to become more skillful at accepting them yourself.

That’s because you gain experience from watching how people respond to your praise. You’ll also increase the number of compliments you receive, so you’ll lift your spirits and create a warmer environment. As Oscar Wilde said:

It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.

Strategies to Give Compliments

1. Be genuine. Authenticity matters most. Look for the good qualities in others that you admire and want to recognize. If your intentions are honorable, people will usually welcome your sincerity.

2. Pick something specific. It’s nice to tell someone that they’re a valued employee or that their home looks lovely. It’s even better to pinpoint exactly what you like about them. Rave about how they cut travel expenses by a third last quarter or how skillfully they sponge painted the walls in their bathroom.

3. Think creatively. A yoga instructor probably knows she’s flexible. She may smile more broadly if you notice how good she looks in a blue wig.

4. Act quickly. Compliments may have a greater impact when you deliver them promptly. Let your grandmother know immediately how much you like the fruitcake she sent you. You’ll also be training yourself to speak up before doubts can set it in.

5. Gush a little. Feel free to go a bit overboard. A lot of cooks will be happy to invite back the dinner guest who says your eggplant parmesan reminds them of Parma.

6. Write it down. Praise lasts longer when you put it in writing. Send emails and greeting cards.

7. Go public. Assemble a wider audience when appropriate. Use a staff meeting to thank the staff accountant who simplified the forms for timesheets and travel expenses. Mention your spouse’s new painting the next time you get together for dinner with friends.

8. Spread good news. You can also make use of compliments that you hear others making. Your best friend will probably be delighted if you pass along flattering remarks from your children who like her ghost stories.

Accepting Compliments Graciously

Try these methods the next time someone tells you how fabulous you are.

1. Assess your self-esteem. If you feel uncomfortable when someone says something nice about you, you may need to examine the way you feel about yourself. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and respect. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to work towards your goals and support you along the way.

2. Focus on the other person. Think about how your reaction affects the person who is being kind to you. Let them know that their compliment is a gift you treasure. Show them that their opinions matter to you.

3. Share your feelings. Respond by describing how a compliment enhances your day. Maybe you were feeling anxious about giving a presentation, but now you’re more confident. After all, at least one perceptive person pointed out how knowledgeable and funny you are.

4. Relax your body. You may have developed automatic physical reactions that are reinforcing your discomfort about receiving compliments. Make an effort to establish eye contact and smile instead of cringing and turning aside. You’ll immediately look and feel more happy and friendly.

Compliments will brighten your day whether you’re handing them out or receiving them. We can all help to build each other up by becoming more skillful at expressing our appreciation.

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