Learn To Say Thank You and Then Just Shut Up

It is kind of amazing how many people are terrible at taking compliments.  I will admit, I am one – however it is something that I actively work on improving.

Of course it helps that I have friends that will immediately jump my case if I say anything other than “Thank you” after a compliment.  Honestly, it has helped me.  It is easier to feel uncomfortable for a moment rather than have to listen to them for an hour lecturing me.  You know who you are….

Let’s face it, there are not enough compliments given these days.  I am not sure why, I mean it is easy to do, is a wonderful feeling on the receiving end and it takes so little time.  Maybe because us bad-compliment-receivers have ruined it for the compliment givers.

For my fellow bad-compliment-receiver let me give you a run down on why it is important for you to take a compliment well and how to do so.


Why you should take a compliment well

  1. Someone      thought enough about you to give you praise.
  2. Someone      has recognized something about you.
  3. In      downplaying a compliment you are downplaying yourself.
  4. You      are underselling yourself.
  5. In a      way you are insulting the compliment giver.
  6. You      may be making the compliment giver feel uncomfortable.


Let’s look at a scenario:


John: “Great job on that project Tom”

Tom: “Aw, thanks, but I really didn’t do anything actually I’m surprised the whole thing was pulled off.”


Now John could be thinking that either Tom actually didn’t have anything to do with it, wasn’t proud of the project himself, or may even feel uncomfortable at that moment because honestly, how to do you follow that up?

How about this – what if John was setting up an opportunity to tell Tom about a new, better position opening that he wants to give to Tom? After that downplay maybe he is second guessing that idea.


How to take a compliment well

  1. Say      “Thank you”
  2. Shut      mouth.


Yep, it really is that simple.  Now, as a bad-compliment-receiver I know how hard it is to stop after the “you” but it is necessary.  Bite your tongue, put food in your mouth, take a drink, make yourself cough – whatever you need to do but seriously – shut up.

I have given compliments before and the receiver is so uncomfortable receiving it that they turn the whole situation into a disaster.  It made me want to run.  It also made me feel extremely uncomfortable; I mean if they hold such a low self-image of themselves then no matter what I say it could turn into a game of “poor pity me” and I don’t like that game.

I think it important to give recognition.  If you have earned it learn to take it or else you will find that people stop giving it because they don’t want to hear the possible “pity me” or have you disrespect them in basically telling them they were wrong for complimenting you.

That’s another thing, if I give someone a compliment on a job well done and they completely downplay it or tell me how they don’t deserve it I might start to think that maybe I was wrong about the whole thing.  People don’t like feeling like they are wrong.

Someone once told me that they feel like they are bragging if they don’t down play it.  It took me a while to wrap my head around that one.  I mean, how are you bragging if someone else said it?

Something else that helps in learning how to accept compliments – give them more often.  Honest, small compliments throughout the day can make an amazing difference to someone and it can really make your day.  I find this is a sure fire way to beat the crappy day syndrome.

If I’ve had a particularly crappy day then I make it a point to give compliments.  Just because my day sucks doesn’t mean I have to share that with anyone else.  I’ll be in the grocery store and if I see an elderly woman with a nice blouse I will say something like, “What a beautiful blouse – it is a lovely color on you.”  Or maybe there is a dad there with a couple of kids who are behaving (so rare these days at least at the grocery stores I have been to) and I will tell him, “You kids are so well behaved.”

It is amazing how a compliment can make someone’s day.  Normally the grocery people are taken by surprise and “thank you” is an immediate reaction but their stun slows any discrediting remarks and I make sure to move on before they get a chance.  It saves the moment.  They got a nice compliment, I have the warm and fuzzies – the crappy day is lessening.

Today if anyone gives you a compliment make it a conscious effort to do the following:

Say “Thank you”

Shut UP!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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