Receiving a compliment is a great thing. But yet, for some strange reason, it’s usually enough to send us all into a tailspin.
Blame that harsh inner critic that likes to whisper nasty things that echo around your brain, but most of us turn praise-filled conversations into awkward and almost unbearably uncomfortable exchanges. We don’t want to seem arrogant or boastful, so we do our best to slide out of that discussion as quickly and bashfully as possible.
Well, it’s time for a change. You’re an intelligent and accomplished professional who deserves to receive recognition without feeling uneasy. Stop making these five common mistakes when accepting compliments, and you’ll be well on your way.
1. You’re Deflecting
As already mentioned, most of us are hesitant to seem overly confident. We don’t want to look like we’re raising both arms over our heads and begging for more glory at the first sight of minor admiration.
So, we have the tendency to respond to compliments with a quick, “It was nothing,” or a “Jason put way more work into that than I did.” We deflect the attention in order express humility and make ourselves feel more comfortable.
However, attempting to disown the praise isn’t your best approach, and doing so will likely make your conversation partner feel uncomfortable. You’re better off responding with a sincere “thank you” and moving on.
2. You’re Not Saying “Thank You”
Speaking of being gracious, it’s important that you are. When someone pays you a genuine compliment, he or she is recognizing a job well done. And, that’s worthy of your gratitude and appreciation.
Resist the urge to shift the spotlight off yourself and reply with a heartfelt, “Thanks so much.” It’s the polite and professional thing to do. Plus, even better? It’ll likely end the exchange a lot quicker than most of the deflection tactics you’d been employing previously.
3. You’re Fishing
Let’s switch to the opposite of attempting to redirect attention: fishing for even more praise.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen on an obvious level where you even realize that you’re attempting to pull more compliments out of someone. In fact, it can happen totally subconsciously—and even when you’re trying to demonstrate some humility.
How? Responding to recognition with something like, “Oh, I thought my presentation looked like a mess!” might seem bashful and self-deprecating at first glance (and maybe that was even your intention), but it may also result in the person who paid you the compliment feeling pressured to contradict your negative beliefs and boost your confidence level back up. So, while you may have not been consciously fishing for further praise, that’s exactly what’s happened.
4. You’re Forgetting About Body Language
By now you know that your nonverbal cues often say a lot more than the words that are actually coming out of your mouth. And, body language becomes especially important when you’re attempting to receive compliments with self-assurance and professionalism.
Accepting a compliment with gratitude is a great first step, but it’s not the whole picture. After all, if you do so with shifting eye contact and your arms crossed, you’re going to lose a lot of impact.
Instead, smile, maintain eye contact with the person you're speaking to, and hold an open posture. Your appreciation will seem that much sincerer—and confident, to boot.
5. You’re Not Returning the Favor
Even if we can’t help but feel uncomfortable receiving compliments, we all still appreciate them. So, don’t neglect to dish them out every now and then!
This doesn’t need to be done immediately when receiving your own praise—although, that can be a positive way to deflect attention if you’re feeling an undeniable urge to do so.
Just remember to make an effort to recognize others’ hard work and successes from time to time, and you’ll foster your reputation as a positive, supportive team player.
Receiving compliments can be awkward at times. But, it’s important that you recognize positive intentions and sincerity in order to accept that praise with grace, poise, and confidence.
Stop making these five common mistakes, and you’ll transform those exchanges from uncomfortable to rewarding in no time.
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