Make Someone’s Day Brighter

 Do you know how to respond to a compliment so that neither you nor the giver feels awkward? Your outright dismissal can make the compliment giver feel rejected. So learning to accept compliments is a valuable skill that promotes healthy self-esteem, good conversations and possibly new friendships. Many of us feel isolated, overwhelmed and anxious in today’s world. It’s difficult to make a difference in the state of the world, but we can make a difference in someone’s world today. Compliments are a way for us to…

  • Show appreciation and praise.
  • Start a conversation.
  • Create connection.
  • Promote a desired behavior.
  • Soften criticism or discipline.

If you struggle giving compliments, here are a few tips:

Be specific. A specific compliment shows effort on the part of the giver. Steer clear of vague generalities, and platitudes—we tend to mistrust these types of flattering remarks. Try mentioning a detail that may be of subtle significance or otherwise unnoticed.  

Be creative. Comment on a positive character trait. Use imaginative language in your kind words.

Be genuine. Don’t give insincere praise. It doesn’t work, and people will see through the pretense. When you give a heartfelt, meaningful accolade, both giver and receiver feel closer.

What if you can give compliments, but find it challenging to accept them?

You’re not alone in your discomfort. According to an academic study, “two thirds of the time respondents to compliments do something other than to accept them.” We don’t want to appear arrogant, so we spurn the praise as being undeserved. However, a rejection of the other person’s kind words can be taken as a dismissal of their opinion.  

How can you respond to a compliment graciously?

  • Don’t argue or deflect. Thank the person for their appreciation. Compliments are often used as conversation starters, as an entry point for connection.
  • Don’t rebuff the appreciation or reflexively return a compliment, as it can demean the intention of the person offering the praise.

And remember, graceful acceptance of well-intentioned praise can be the beginning of a great conversation.

Your optimism challenge:

Try accepting a compliment with a gracious “thank you.” Let the remark serve as a conversation-starter.

Extra credit:  Experiment with offering a specific genuine compliment as you look for the good in people you are interacting with.

Share your feedback, questions or comments at

Please share:
Tagged on: