Imagine this: A successful C-suite executive is being praised for her brilliant new strategy. She could respond one of two ways: with “Thank you!” or with “Eh, it was no big deal.”

Obviously you’re picturing her saying thanks and then maybe even shaking a few hands.

However, when your boss commends you for pulling an extra shift, turning in all of your work in advance of a deadline, or stepping up in some other way, you probably often reply that “It’s nothing.”

And that’s not true: It was something—something you did because you care about doing a good job. With this executive in mind, here’s how to get away from saying “It’s no big deal”—and get closer to accepting praise.


1. When Your Hard Work Is Acknowledged

You put in extra effort and you’re being praised for it. So, instead of shrugging off the recognition, Muse contributor KT Bernhagen suggests saying “Thank you.” She includes a few scenarios, including: “For a job well done: [say] ‘Thank you. I was hoping this was what you were looking for, and I really like it too.’”

A response like this is warm, and it also shows that you’re confident enough to share that you’re proud of your work.


2. When Someone Thanks You

Of course, if someone acknowledges your efforts by saying, “Thanks for your great work!” you’re going to want to take another approach. (Otherwise, it can start to feel like some strange gratitude competition: “No, thank you!” “No, no, really, thank you.”)

Your best response here is the painfully obvious one—that would be “You’re welcome.” The funny thing is, “You’re welcome” is so easy, but also so overlooked. If you listen to yourself the next 10 times someone thanks you, I’d bet your response is more along the lines of “Sure,” “No problem,” or “Any time.”

So, practice saying, “You’re welcome” in daily life (e.g., after someone thanks you for holding the door open). Then, you’ll be able to say it much more readily when a co-worker thanks you for helping him out with a big project.


3. When It’s Part of a Group Effort

OK, there is one time when you shouldn’t soak up all of the compliments, and that’s when it was a group effort. If someone tells you your idea was brilliant, but it was really a collaboration with other colleagues, the best response is “Thank you. Jane, Mark, and I made a great team!”

Some people skip over the thanks, but you already know that would be deflecting. With this compound response, you’re accepting the other person’s praise and being a team player by recognizing the contributions of others.



How you accept (or deflect) recognition may seem like no big deal, but it contributes to the overall professional impression you make. Remember, successful people aren’t bashful about their hard work—and you shouldn’t be either.


Photo of high five courtesy of Shutterstock.