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How to Receive a Compliment Without Being a Self-Centered Person

Most folks have been there

It was a one-person project and one you fell in love with. You put your heart in it and delivered beyond expectations. The project was elegant. Every minute you worked meant every detail came together with the highest quality.

This morning you presented it to the executive team. Just now, the president of the company came up to you in front of your coworkers and said, “Congratulations, your project and your presentation were outstanding.”

Suddenly it seems as if all eyes are looking at you. What do you say?

You’re pretty sure that saying, “Damn right, it was!” is probably not the right thing.

How do you answer a compliment without denying it or looking like a self-centered person?

How to receive a compliment without being a self-centered person

The idea of accepting a compliment has come up in conversations with Ann Michael, Phil Gerbyshak, and Allan Cox this week. The discussion with each of them centered on the dynamic of why people have a problem accepting a compliment and how to handle the self-conscious feeling that is often attached to the attention a compliment brings.

Handling a compliment with grace and feeling good about it is easy if you remember to do three things.

Compliment: “Your presentation was outstanding.”

1 Don’t make it about you.

Example of a response to avoid:
Let me tell you about it. I was up until 3 a.m. every night this week. My computer crashed last night and my kids have the flu.

A compliment is conversation. A speaker tells a offers a listener information about his or her opinion in the form of praise. The content of a compliment — even when it’s personal in nature such as You’re a wonderful human being. — is simply a statement of a point of view. Keep yourself out of the response.

2 Don’t discount the speaker’s gift.

Example of a response to avoid:
It wasn’t much. I just threw something together.

The speaker has offered a personal thought in your favor. To deny it or discount it is to say that the speaker has made a mistake in judgment. Value the speaker’s words in your response.

3 Acknowledge the speaker’s words and stop there.

Examples of a response that works:
Thank you for saying that it means a lot to hear it from you.

Focus on the speaker and the value of the speaker’s words. That guarantees your response will be graceful, respectful, and not about you.

That sentence in Step 3 was my default answer for the first few tries. Now I no longer freeze when I hear a compliment coming toward me. So I listen, focus, and respond even more thoughtfully. I enjoy compliments now that I no longer make them about me.

It’s not a hard habit to develop these three steps in accepting a compliment. Try them once and you’ll most likely be ready to put them to use every time. The exchange that occurs is so much more natural. It’s normal conversation without the “spotlight” glaring in our eyes.

It’s nice to let someone know that you heard and value their compliment. Sometimes it even allows you a chance to offer an authentic compliment in return.

Comments
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