Compliments are often so rare that people don’t even know how to respond well to them. You often see or hear people make an excuse or immediately negate the compliment. A response such as “No, not this old thing” or “No I don’t, you’re too nice” or even subtle negation such as “Oh, come on.” If you think about these types of responses, you can see that they are defensive and immediate argue back with the person who gave the compliment in the first place. Its no wonder people learn NOT to give compliments if they get attacked instead of appreciated when they give one. This article addresses compliments and will help you learn to respond in an appropriate way.

There is Only One Response

There is really only one response that works for every compliment. Its simple and powerful. Its to say, “Thank You”. Nothing more is needed. You could add something to extend your appreciation, but don’t try to make the other person wrong by negating it or excusing the compliment. They told you for a reason, so accept it and say, “Thank you.”

Return a Compliment

Once you’ve learned to simply accept compliments given to you, you may want to work on returning a compliment. This is a great way to make compliments much more natural and can build a little more trust with a person if they feel that you notice something specific about them to return a compliment. There is a danger though with returning a compliment. You shouldn’t bother to simply return a compliment like, “You too!” or “Thanks, I like your shirt also” since its not very specific and is generally considered as a response that is polite, but not actually meaningful. It is much more valuable to respond with a unique compliment that you really mean, not something just to be polite in your response. Its fine to return a compliment at a later time when you notice something specific, which I definitely recommend over an immediate response since it won’t come across as strong. Doing this at a separate time and about something new that you notice, allows you to be much more genuine. Think about it, would you rather get a compliment out of the blue, or only after complimenting that person first? Do the same for someone else and they’ll feel the same way.

Pass on Another Compliment

Compliments seem to be far and few between for many people, which you can easily change by passing on a new compliment to a second person anytime to hear a compliment yourself. If you want to return a compliment to the fist person you heard one from great, but then also remind yourself to look for things to compliment a second person on. You can bring a lot of joy to someone’s day by a simple genuine compliment and giving them makes you feel good about it yourself. Remember, you won’t always get a positive response back (expect that negated compliment) but give them anyway. Its easily worth it when you get back a smile, a person in a better mood because of what you had to tell them or even a compliment returned to you later on from that person.

Compliment a Stranger

If you are comfortable with compliments with people you know, you’ll realize how joyful they can be to give and receive and you can give that to complete strangers as well. I’m always shocked at the kind of response you can get by complimenting a complete stranger. You may have to be a little more cautious with how you say it or what you compliment someone one, but I’ve found that strangers are much less likely to negate a compliment and simply smile and say, “Thank You”. Sometimes they they are quite shy, blush or even seem a bit scared and shy away (since its such an unknown experience for many people) but it almost always gives them a smile. This can be a great conversion starter especially in public places or transit. I recommend keeping your compliments to small things and said without any additional intent so you are not thought to be “hitting on someone”. Complimenting someone by saying that they have a really nice jacket is a lot different than saying, “You have the most gorgeous eyes I’ve seen all week!”. Keep things appropriate for how well you know someone and keep your compliments innocent. I think if you can give a compliment in passing without appearing to have any additional intent, it is most effective.

When was the last time you accepted a compliment with JUST a thank you?
What about returning a compliment when you’ve received one?
Have you passed on or initiated giving a compliment lately?
When have you given a compliment to a complete stranger?

Try these out, you will find they bring a lot more joy than you might have in fear of doing them! Its well worth it.
There is a great article that I found after writing this about giving a genuine compliment on The Positivity Blog here.

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