Business Etiquette

Can You Accept a Compliment Graciously?

iStock_000058964220_LargeMarch 1st was World Compliment Day although I am not sure how many people were aware of it. Did you receive a compliment then or do you even remember? If so, how did you handle someone saying something nice to or about you? Did it make you feel good or did you find it awkward?

Many people say they have a hard time receiving compliments. They don’t know how to respond and will attempt to brush off a kind remark. Some people have told me that when they receive compliments, they attempt to deny, deflect, explain away, apologize or end up sticking their foot in their mouth with some weird comment.

Why do we react negatively to compliments? Sometimes it is because of our own inadequate feelings about ourselves. It could be that we don’t trust the person who is saying nice things to us. Do they want something from us? On the other hand, it may be the fear of appearing arrogant if we accept the compliment.

The way you handle a compliment says a lot about you and your self-esteem. Apologizing, blushing, looking away or appearing uncomfortable tells people that you don’t have a high opinion of yourself.

So how do you respond to a compliment? With sincere appreciation for the time and the kind words. Make eye contact with the other person, smile and simply say “Thank you.” Once you develop the habit of thanking people for their thoughtfulness, it will become easy to reply with confidence and add a comment.

After you say “thank you,” then add a bit of personal information.  When someone says, “That is a really beautiful necklace;” you respond with “Thank you, it was a gift from a good friend.”

Another option is to share your feelings about the subject. “That was a wonderful presentation you gave our team.” “Thank you, it was my pleasure.”

Say “thank you,” and repay the compliment. “That project you worked on so hard turned out to be a huge hit. “Thank you.  That means a lot, coming from you.”

The confident professional person appreciates a compliment and receives it graciously. The confident professional also gives compliments. They make other people feel good about themselves—and also the one who offers the kind words.  After all, showing kindness, courtesy and respect for others is what etiquette and manners are all about.

I agree with Mark Twain who said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Photo from Savannah magazine
Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website,

Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is a leading business etiquette and modern manners expert who offers seminars, keynote speeches, webinars and individual coaching. She works with corporations, associations, colleges and universities as well as individuals.

2 thoughts on “Can You Accept a Compliment Graciously?

  • Charlotte Wayne

    Thanks for the outstanding information, it really is useful.

  • Harold Hargrave

    Greetings! Quite helpful advice on this article! It is the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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