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32 Best Ways to Accept & Respond to a Compliment Without Feeling Awkward

Do compliments make you feel awkward? Do you never know what to say back? Find out how to respond to a compliment the right way!

how to respond to a compliment

Let’s face it, very few of us know how to take a compliment. Even fewer know how to respond to a compliment calmly, in a way that makes us seem grateful and polite.

Many of us live in fear of compliments because we just don’t know how to react. However, knowing how to respond to a compliment shows people what a confident, self-assured, amazing person you are!

So, if you want to be a better you, you need to learn how to accept a compliment. This feature will show you techniques, example responses, and reasons why being able to respond to a compliment is so important.

What is a compliment?

The dictionary defines a compliment as “a polite expression of praise or admiration.” In plain English, that’s a kind remark that you say to someone to show that you like their appearance, respect their qualities, or approve of something they’ve done.

A compliment can be anything from “you’re so pretty,” to “you’re the best at basketball!” It can be about something you’ve achieved or something that you’ve been naturally blessed with.

Research shows that when you receive a compliment from somebody, it creates a response in the reward centers of your brain. It’s just the same as if they gave you a five-dollar bill.

[Read: 50 warm and fuzzy, feel-good questions to lift your date’s mood]

Our brains respond to a compliment like this because when we hear kind words, we are being “paid,” we’re just paid respects instead of cash! Compliments should always make you feel richer. If a compliment doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, it wasn’t a real compliment.

How not to respond to a compliment

Before we discuss how to respond to a compliment, we need to show you how NOT to respond. Generally, when people are complimented, our knee-jerk reaction is to ignore it, deny it, or deflect it.

Worst of all, some of us get desperate. We start fishing for more compliments, and make the person giving them feel even more awkward than we do!

[Read: 20 life hacks you can use to become way more confident in life]

How did you react the last time someone gave you a compliment? Did you blush and turn your eyes to the floor? Or perhaps you went to great lengths to contradict the compliment, claiming “it was nothing”.

You might have given 101 reasons why it just isn’t the case. Or maybe you even explained why the person dishing out the compliments is actually far better than you.

None of these responses are healthy. Being able to respond to a compliment perfectly is one of the clearest signs of a confident person. People who are confident feel secure in themselves and don’t mind when others notice their awesomeness!

[Read: Bold, insightful lessons to help you be your best self]

Why are compliments important?

When someone gives a compliment, they want to make you feel good and build your self-esteem. So, if you aren’t accepting them, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You could even offend the person who tried to make you feel good.

Your response to a compliment is not only important for the compliment-giver’s feelings, but also for your self-esteem. If someone compliments you, accept it! Stick it in your pocket, and feel good that someone noticed how fantastic you are.

It’s time to learn how to respond to compliments with confidence. So, here is a definitive guide to doing just that! [Read: How to feel good about yourself and kick ass in every aspect of your life]

How to respond to a compliment

It is natural for people to want to divert good attention off them. Our culture teaches us modesty, so people will downplay their successes, achievements, or looks to seem more humble.

For example, if someone says, “I like your jeans,” your first instinct may be to say, “Oh, these old things? They are decades out of style.” You may think this makes you look humble, but it’s actually harmful.

What you should say is simple: just “Thank you!” Allow good things to be said to you and about you. Love yourself by accepting them, and taking them to heart instead of pushing them back.

Why you feel awkward accepting a compliment

Sometimes, accepting a compliment can feel really awkward. And that usually stems from the belief that you don’t deserve it. But if someone’s complimenting something about you, chances are, they noticed it and deemed it worthy of a compliment!

If there’s anything awkward about the compliment, it’s the belief that you don’t think you’re worthy.

So, the next time someone compliments you and you feel embarrassed, don’t obsess over why they complimented you. Just accept it – it’s because they think you’re worth it!

Here’s something to try next time you’re alone: stare into the mirror for a minute. Ask yourself, what is it that makes you believe you’re not worthy of being complimented in the first place? [Read: All the ways to build high self-esteem and start winning at life]

So, is it really that bad or high-handed of you to accept something about yourself that others appreciate? We don’t think so!

The 5 big reasons we can’t accept a compliment

The first step towards learning to accept a compliment and respond appropriately is realizing why we feel the need to reject them in the first place! Maybe one or more of these five reasons will strike a chord with you.

1. We want to look humble

As human beings, we constantly worry about how our words and actions might be perceived by others. One of our greatest fears is being seen as arrogant. After all, it is often one of the top criticisms we may have about others – so perish the thought that someone else might believe you to be arrogant!

This fear of arrogance makes us obsessed with humility. We often believe that by rejecting a compliment, putting ourselves down, or downplaying our achievements, we’ll seem more humble, modest, and likable. [Read: 20 signs you’re a secret people pleaser and just don’t realize it]

2. We bully ourselves

Some of us are self-deprecating, self-destructive, and self-bullying. It comes from our unrealistic ideals of perfection, and the pressure and expectations we put upon ourselves to meet those ideals.

Every single one of us falls short of perfection because it is unattainable. Yet, we still choose to constantly put ourselves down and bully ourselves into believing that we are not good enough.

As a consequence, many of us then reject compliments because we genuinely believe that they are undeserved. [Read: How to make small talk confidently without feeling awkward]

3. We can’t stand the pressure

Many of us dread receiving compliments because we feel that they heighten the expectations on us.

For example, imagine if someone were to compliment you on your outfit on one particular day. Would you then feel pressured to look equally as amazing every other day, for fear of forever being judged against that one particularly good version of yourself on that one particularly good day?

[Read: 34 life-changing ways to fall in love with yourself]

We attempt to remedy this situation by rejecting the compliment in the first place by downplaying our achievements. This all comes out of our fear of being a disappointment to others in the future.

4. We are distrusting

When receiving a compliment, it is often difficult to perceive whether the other person is being sincere. Perhaps they have a motive, or are trying to provoke a particular reaction?

Cast your mind back to that cult teen movie from the early 2000s, Mean Girls. In one particular scene, the infamous Queen Bee Regina George stops a fellow classmate in the hallway, and pays her a compliment: “Oh my god, I love your skirt! Where did you get it?”

But the moment the girl turns her back, Regina mutters: “That is the ugliest f***ing skirt I’ve ever seen.”

Many of us, living in fear of a moment like this, attempt to save face by denying compliments. We attempt to align our response with what we believe is the complimenter’s true opinion – a negative one. [Read: Easy ways to instantly recognize fake people and stay away]

5. We love to criticize

As a society, we have a knack for spotting flaws. Most of us have sat around with our friends complaining about the veins on our legs, the pores on our nose, or the excess fat around our hip bones.

After all, you are surely the most qualified person to make a judgment on yourself, right? You could even go as far as to say that we enjoy complaining about ourselves as much as we like complaining about others!

Consequently, we often find it easier to accept criticism over compliments, simply because they are more often in agreement with our own beliefs.

Furthermore, we subconsciously believe that by accepting a compliment, we are admitting that we were wrong about ourselves. Many of us have trouble admitting that. [Read: How to master positive self-talk and banish negativity]

Are all compliments complimentary?

That is not to say all compliments are meant to be complimentary. There are times when someone gives you what sounds like a compliment, but it really isn’t. Backhanded compliments are the way people build you up – only to knock you down.

These are the type of compliments you need to deflect quickly and ignore. If someone uses a compliment to manipulate you, respond politely, but send a clear message that you know what the intention is and you aren’t interested. [Read: How to react to a backhanded compliment without losing your poise]

Why you should learn how to respond to a compliment

Before we get to learning how to respond to compliments the right way, it’s time to flip your internal script and dispel your fears when it comes to receiving compliments! Here are five reasons why.

1. You appear more humble by accepting the compliment

Rejecting a compliment can actually make you appear hostile and obnoxious, NOT humble and modest.

Ordinarily, you might respond to a compliment such as “Your hair looks lovely today” with a reply like “Oh, it’s horrible and greasy… I haven’t washed it for days”. You might think you are just putting yourself down in order to look modest.

However, in reality, you are also unintentionally saying: “You’re wrong and I’m right and this is why.” Sounds pretty arrogant, don’t you think? You are much better off accepting the compliment in a respectful and gracious manner.

2. You save the complimenter from shame

By giving you a compliment, a person has gone out of their way to make you feel good about yourself. They’re verbalizing something positive that they have noticed about you.

It also often takes courage to pay a compliment. By deciding not to accept the compliment, you are dooming their efforts to failure. You’re also disrespecting their ability to form judgments.

Worst of all, you run the risk of causing them embarrassment. Protect the feelings of the complimenter, and see accepting a compliment as a compliment in return! [Read: Subtle ways you’re ruining your own life and sabotaging your happiness]

3. You can call the complimenter’s bluff

Even if you believe the compliment to be insincere, you are still better off accepting it. If the complimenter is being disingenuous, their aim is most likely to make you feel small and vulnerable, and to knock your confidence.

By giving them the opposite response, you are calling their bluff and denying them the satisfaction of seeing you squirm. So, muster up as much courage as possible and deliver your acceptance with maximum confidence and poise. [Read: The simple daily self-love habits that’ll make you a confident rockstar!]

4. You should celebrate your achievements

We never fail to give ourselves a hard time over our failings, so why should we fail to congratulate ourselves for our achievements?

You can reward yourself by accepting the compliments paid to you by others! View a compliment as an opportunity to boost your self-esteem, and avoid the pitfalls of negative thinking. After all, having confidence and a sense of pride in yourself can lead you to further success!

5. You will be more liked by others

Our happiness partly relies on the state of our relationships and the success of our social interactions. The simple truth is that people are more likely to like you if you have a positive and confident frame of mind.

Therefore, rejecting compliments and responding to them in a negative way will have the complete opposite effect. It will lose you friends, rather than make them.

So, accepting compliments with a friendly and positive outlook leads to positive outcomes. [Read: 35 tips to charm absolutely anyone and make people love you]

How to respond to a compliment without feeling awkward

The next time someone compliments you and you find yourself feeling awkward, take a breath, smile, and use any of the points below.

1. Say thank you

Yep, it really is that easy. If someone compliments you, there is no need to be shy about it. Just accept it and say, “Thank you.” Don’t feel the need to follow it up by giving them a charity “back at ya” compliment. Simply say thank you.

This is the number one step when it comes to accepting a compliment. A simple “thank you” is often all it takes! Expressing thanks will never cause others to make presumptions about the size of your ego, and you can only ever come across as gracious and courteous!

Add a smile, eye contact, and confident body language to show your complimenter that your gratitude is genuine. [Read: How to be more interesting and make everyone want to hang out with you]

2. Show some extra appreciation

Follow up your expression of gratitude with some extra appreciation for the person who gave you the compliment.

For example, “Thank you… You’re so kind for saying so” or “Thank you… It makes me feel great that you noticed. I have been working so hard on that!” The complimenter will truly feel like they hit the right spot! [Read: 25 awesome compliments that guys will never forget!]

3. Share the credit

When accepting a compliment, always be sure to acknowledge when it was a group effort and give credit where it’s due. Share the compliment with any others who were involved in the successful endeavor.

What’s more, if the complimenter had a hand in your achievements, be sure to let them know!

4. Turn the compliment into a conversation

If you fear you might cause an awkward silence after accepting the compliment with thanks, why not turn the compliment into a conversation?

If someone gives you a compliment about your outfit, give them information about where you purchased it. However, try not to put yourself down by degrading the compliment or downplaying it. You can tell them where you got it, but you don’t have to say you bought it half-off. Leave that to the imagination.

If the person commented on your new shoes, they might like to know where you got them from. Perhaps, there were other shoes in the shop that caught your eye? [Read: How to make small talk with anyone without ever feeling awkward again!]

5. Don’t deflect it

If someone gives you a compliment, don’t deflect it. Never pick apart what they complimented you on by showing them your faults.

What do we mean by that? If someone says, “I love the color of your lipstick,” don’t say something like, “Yeah, I bought it to cover up this awful cold sore.”

It only lessens the good intentions the complimenter is sending you. Maybe they noticed your cold sore and wanted to downplay it. Maybe they didn’t, but who cares? Take it. It isn’t your responsibility to point out the faults in yourself. It is your job to boost yourself up.

6. Return the favor… later

Returning the compliment immediately after receiving one may come across as disingenuous and false. You don’t want to be seen as paying a compliment for the sake of it!

However, do make a mental note to repay the kindness by delivering a sincere compliment the next time you notice something you genuinely like about that person.

7. Use it to flirt back

If someone compliments you, and you are interested in them, take that compliment and expand on it to make it a conversation. Sometimes, a compliment is a way for a person to make a connection.

Find a way to tie the compliment into opening up a dialogue. For instance, if someone you like says, “Hey, do you work out? You look fit.” You can start a whole conversation from that about what things you like to do. Turn the compliment into a way to get to know someone. [Read: 20 revealing questions to get to know someone better]

8.  Accept it even if it isn’t the compliment you’re looking for

Did you ever have someone tell you that you look like someone famous? But then, when they say who, you think “ouch, that person is not so pretty…”

Try to take it with dignity, realizing they meant it as a compliment. Just because you don’t think your lookalike is attractive, they must, or they wouldn’t be calling you ugly with a smile… at least not most people. [Read: Catcalling – compliment or harassment?]

Compliments are funny things – sometimes they’re meant to make you feel good, and sometimes they’re meant to put you in your place. If someone pays you a compliment, the best way to respond is to think about why they complimented you.

If you find they’re sincere, use it to your advantage. If you think they might be messing with you, shut them down completely.

The best way to respond to a compliment is to take it with grace when it is meant to be kind, or to give it right back if it’s not. But never try to deflect it or put yourself down.

9. If it is backhanded, give it right back

There are occasions when a compliment can be backhanded. Backhanded compliments are things like “You know you are really pretty, you could probably be a plus-sized model.”

They are compliments that on the surface are nice, but there is an undertone of hostility you are meant to feel. If someone gives you a backhanded compliment, then give it right back.

Don’t let them get away with giving a compliment meant to degrade. Let them know with a snarky comeback that you know their compliment wasn’t real. [Read: How to deal with a backhanded compliment and say the right things]

10. Give a charity compliment if that’s what they want

If you feel someone is fishing for a compliment, then it is okay to take the compliment and give a charity one back.

For instance, if someone says, “I like your hair,” and they run their own hands through their hair intentionally, or have done something different to theirs, they’re probably looking for a return compliment. So, just give it to them. If that is what they need to feel better, give them what they need. It makes you both feel good. [Read: 15 unfake ways to be adored by people around you]

11. If you aren’t interested

Now, if someone compliments you, and it is because you know they are interested in you, respond with thanks. But if you’re not interested back, try to shut it down quickly.

Compliments are nice. But if someone who is flirting with you comes on too strong, or says something inappropriate or creepy, just say thanks, smile, and walk away. Listen to that instinct telling you the compliment was over-the-top and way out of context.

[Read: How to build your self-esteem with these simple life challenges]

12. Think before you speak

When you’re trying to decide how to respond to a compliment, always think before you speak. Speaking without thinking is an easy way to say something offensive, rude, or inappropriate.

While we’re on the subject of creepers, it’s extra important to think before you speak if you’re in an uncomfortable or risky situation. Don’t let yourself feel pressured in the moment to say something you don’t really feel, or you could wind up in trouble.

Stay calm, breathe deeply, and always think before you speak.

13. Stay humble

Remember, our society values humility. Being modest and humble should always be a consideration when you decide how to respond to a compliment. Choose a polite response that shows your best side.

We’ll say it again: don’t belittle yourself or deflect. This only makes you look more arrogant and puts the complimenter down. [Read: 34 qualities of a good person and why it pays to be nice]

14. Don’t correct them

Sometimes, a compliment might not be exactly factually correct. For example, somebody might say “Wow, I love your stilettos!” – not noticing the fact that you’re actually wearing a cone heel.

If this happens, don’t correct them. Just take the compliment and feel good about yourself. It doesn’t matter if the compliment isn’t factually accurate, what matters is that they said something nice.

Correcting the complimenter will only make you look like an arrogant know-all, and make sure that you don’t get complimented again!

15. Accept and move on

Once you’ve thought of how to respond to your compliment, accept it with your chosen response and move on. You’ll only make things extra awkward if you linger longer than necessary.

Even if you want to kickstart some getting-to-know-you talk or sexy flirting action, it’s best to use the compliment as a lead-in to a wider topic. [Read: How to hold a conversation and make people love talking to you]

16. It’s not a competition

When you receive a compliment, everybody wins. The complimenter gets the buzz of knowing they’ve done something nice, and you get a self-esteem boost.

When choosing how to respond to a compliment, always remember that it’s not a competition. Don’t ever compete by talking bad about yourself, giving a fake compliment in return, or putting down the other person – both of you are already winners.

17. Don’t go fishing

Fishing for compliments is when you try to squeeze more compliments out of somebody. For example, if somebody says “You run really fast!” you might start talking about doing a triathlon to get compliments on your swimming and cycling too.

You can also fish by being self-deprecating. If somebody compliments your hair, you might keep going on about how greasy it usually is. This forces the complimenter to comment on its shine to assuage your hang-ups.

[Read: The common compliments for women that ALWAYS backfire]

Save casting your line for the dating pool! Never fish for compliments, as this will only make you look desperate and make the complimenter uncomfortable.

18. Don’t be self-serving

Sure, that compliment might have made the conversation all about you for a minute. But don’t be self-serving. Knowing how to respond to a compliment is as much about others as it is about you.

The response you give should be focused on the other person’s experience. Always respond in a way that lifts them up too. Most of all, don’t compliment yourself.

The absolute worst way you can ever respond to a compliment is by saying “I know.” Although it’s important to know you’re awesome, don’t let on! It comes across as ungrateful and self-satisfied, and robs the complimenter of the feeling that they made you smile.

19. Keep it simple

Remember, KISS: keep it simple, stupid!

A simple “Thank you” is always the best way to respond to a compliment. It’s quick, heartfelt, and easy to remember when you’re flustered.

If you’re ever stuck on how to respond to a compliment, always go for the simplest option. It’ll make you seem more genuine, as it won’t seem artificial or forced.

20. Don’t insult yourself

The complimenting game is all about positivity. Never, ever, ever, ever insult yourself in response to a compliment.

When that person chose to compliment you, they wanted to give you a positive experience. If you then turn around and insult yourself, you’re throwing that back in their face!

The easiest way to be humble is by being honest about your feelings. If you’re not used to receiving compliments, it’s perfectly alright to say so as part of your thanks. But keep your self-deprecating comments brief.

[Read: Is negativity ruining your life? 20 signs and tips to cope]

21. Pay attention to your body language

Don’t forget, your body speaks as well as your voice. If you respond positively but your body language is negative and closed *folding your arms, averting your eyes,* you’ll seem like you’re rejecting the compliment.

Always accompany your response to a compliment with a warm smile, eye contact, and a bright tone of voice. [Read: The secret body language tricks that will make you seem more confident]

22. Practice makes perfect

Finally, practice makes perfect. Find out which techniques work for you and stick with them. Knowing how to respond to a compliment is often about self-knowledge – understanding the responses that best show your gratitude, and deploying them in a way that shows you’re genuine.

It might sound silly, but try complimenting yourself and practicing your responses in a mirror. This will show you your response from the complimenter’s point of view. If you keep practicing, you’ll find out which of our techniques fit you.

[Read: 250+ example compliments that’ll make people happy]

Compliment responses you can use

Still don’t know how to respond to a compliment? Here are some example responses you can use for different types of compliments. Remember, only use the ones that work for you. A personalized response is always more effective.

Casual compliments

– “Thank you!”

– “You just made my day. Thanks!”

– “Thanks, that’s really kind of you!”

– “Thanks for noticing, it’s great to hear that!”

– “Thanks – right back ‘atcha!”

Compliments on achievements

– “I couldn’t have done it without you!”

– “Thanks, I’ve been practicing!”

– “Thank you, but it was a team effort!”

Flirty compliments

– “Wow, you must have great taste.”

– “Thanks, but it’s not as cute as the smile you just gave me…”

– “Aw, thanks! You’ve made me blush…”

– “That makes me feel so loved. I’m very happy when I’m with you.”

– “Thanks! There’s a crazy story behind that.”

Unwanted or creepy compliments

– “You’re so sweet, but I’m not interested.”

– “I’m pretty uncomfortable with that comment.”

– “Thank you, but I’m not really comfortable talking about that.”

Backhanded compliments

– “What do you mean by that?”

– “Thank you, I really wanted your opinion on that.”

– “Thanks. Are you always this honest?”

[Read: Decoding compliments: 50 “kind” words and their true meanings]

How to respond to a compliment over text

Now, most of us assume responding to a compliment over text is different from accepting a compliment in person. But if you think about it, it’s almost the same. You can use any of the lines we’ve gone through above. But what if you want something specific for texting?

Luckily you have hundreds of emojis to express yourself in a way your words can’t, which is awesome! Don’t know what to say?

– Use a “see no evil” monkey face emoji

– Use a big smiling face

– Use a heart emoji

– Use a blushing smile emoji

– Or use just about any other emoji that would be appropriate to your relationship and the compliment. *maybe not an eggplant emoji though*

[Read: Silent signs of unspoken attraction that’ll reveal if someone is into you]

How to respond when someone says thank you

And finally, the polar opposite of accepting and responding to compliments. What do you say to someone when they say thank you to you?

Awkward? Not really! If it’s over text, just use an emoji back. If it’s in person, just smile back. And immediately continue the conversation from before the compliment. Waiting for the other person to say something more makes everything awkward, and could even turn into fishing.

So instead of waiting too long *3 seconds can feel like a lifetime*, simply allow them to thank you for the compliment, smile warmly, and continue talking.

Now you know how to give compliments, accept compliments, and how to respond to compliments in a way that’ll leave everyone feeling warm and happy!

Next time you wonder how to respond to a compliment, think twice before shying away or dismissing it. It’s always better to gratefully accept it! You‘ll be surprised at how easy it is to respond with confidence and class.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...