How to Receive a Compliment Graciously

by Jennifer Miller on December 11, 2012

in Personal Effectiveness

Hand giving a wrapped gift

When my daughter was three years old, she received a darling coffee mug with her name on it as a gift from a relative. Her reaction was less than optimal. With frowning face, she said loudly in front of the gift-giver and the rest of the family:

“But Mommy, I already have this cup. What am I gonna do with another one?” Then she carelessly tossed it aside.

Oops. Enter a parenting opportunity to talk about how to accept gifts graciously.

Fortunately, most of us grow up into self-aware adults and learn how to navigate gift-giving appropriately.

Or do we?

One area where we may still struggle – receiving compliments from others.

Have you ever considered that a compliment is like a gift? The person bestowing the compliment is offering you the chance to feel good about your achievement. If someone gave you a birthday gift, would you toss it back in their hands, saying, “Bleh! What an awful gift!”?

Of course you wouldn’t.

But that’s exactly what we do when we don’t graciously accept a compliment. Some of us are socialized to be modest – “Oh, it was nothing, really.” Think about this: by minimizing your accomplishment, you are in essence tossing the praise back into the face of the person who thought to give you the gift of feedback.

There is a much more graceful way.

“Thank you. Your words mean the world to me.”

“Wow, I hadn’t really thought about it in that way – thanks!”

“Yes, it was a big accomplishment. Thank you for noticing.”

The next time someone compliments you, resist the urge to downplay your contribution. A humble, sincere “thanks” honors both you and the thoughtful person who took the time to recognize your talents.


Ready to turn the tables and be a compliment-giver? You might like my post on praising people in Do Your Words Encourage or Deflate?



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer Miller December 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm


“It was my pleasure to serve you with my talent.” What a gracious way to accept a compliment. Our talents really *can* serve others, can’t they?

Thanks for your contribution on The People Equation.

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