Once you start dressing up, you’ll notice that people will compliment you much more often, and that is a good thing. However, accepting a compliment can be awkward. Don’t spoil it! In today’s guide, we discuss how not to reply to a compliment, how to accept it like a gentleman, and how to give one in return.
Your colleagues at work, random strangers, or even your mom are much more likely to say something flattering about you when you look nice. The problem is, people often feel uncomfortable when they are complimented. It sometimes even makes them feel modest, guilty, or embarrassed. It can also make you feel like an impostor or you might start to read things into it, like “What is he really saying here?” or “What does he want from me?”
As a consequence, people often reply to a compliment in a way that makes the whole situation awkward. Basically, it turns something positive to something negative. In the worst case scenario, it makes you look like a jerk.
How Not To Reply To A Compliment
1. First of all, don’t correct people
Compliment: “Nice suit, man!”
Your response: “Well, it’s actually a sport coat.”
It makes you look like a jerk. Of course, a suit is different from a sport coat, but this person was just trying to be nice and it’s not the time to educate or correct them.
2. Resist the urge to escape
Compliment: “I love your….”
You get uncomfortable and interrupt them and say “Oh, got to go. Sorry.”
That’s a bad thing. It’s just awkward and it makes them feel like they said something wrong and in fact, something so bad that you ran from them.
Compliment: “Hey, great haircut!”
Your response: “Oh no, I really hate that and I want to get rid of it.”
It makes them feel like they have bad taste. On top of that, it also shows that you don’t have tact.
4. Deflecting a compliment
Compliment: “Hey, I really like your tie a lot!”
Your response: “Oh no, yours is even better!”
It seems made up on the spot and disingenuous because you just said exactly the same thing that they said to you. Nobody’s going to believe you.
5. Don’t explain or over-explain
Compliment: “Man, I love those shoes.”
Your response: ” Well actually, I got them from my mom and she always says women like nice shoes and I really hope I could pick up nice girls in them.”
Once you say that, people feel like it’s an overshare. They’ll think you’re an insecure person and they will certainly not compliment you again.
6. Don’t brag
Compliment: “Nice tie, bro!”
Your response: “Yeah, it’s from Hermes, it cost me $200. I have the entire collection at home.”
This is probably the biggest jerk move you can make, because you just brag about yourself and how awesome you are.
7. Never cheapen a compliment
Compliment: “Oh, this is an interesting pocket square!”
Your response: “Oh no, it’s nothing special! I just bought them for 50 cents at a thrift store next door.”
Basically, what you’re saying is the other person has cheap taste, and who wants to hear that?
8. Don’t forfeit
Let’s go back to the pocket square example.
It’s like “Oh no, it’s nothing special. Here! It’ll look much better on you, you want it?” Just because someone compliments you doesn’t mean they want it for themselves. Furthermore, you told them something negative about the item and then want to give it to them. This shows them how much you appreciate them, which is very little.
So now that we have all these bad examples, how do you accept a compliment like a gentleman?
Someone is just trying to be nice and says something nice to you, that’s it. Don’t try to interpret things at all. Simply smile and say thank you. That’s really all there is to it. It’s particularly true if a stranger compliments you and you’ll probably never see them again and that’s okay. Just go along and smile.
On the other hand, if it’s a compliment from someone you see regularly, again, do not deflect and just say something nice about them.
So, to recap: a “thank you” and a smile is ALL YOU NEED! No explanation, elaboration, or detail needed.
2. Observe and reciprocate
Over the next week or two, if you find something that’s truly special and unique about them, you can compliment them. Don’t say “You look great today!” because that’s generic, they’ve heard it a thousand times, and they don’t believe you. It’s also very uncreative.
3. Compliment their actions
If you pay attention, offer a compliment on a job they did well, such as food they cooked or something else they are interested in. It shows them that you paid attention to them and said something meaningful.
Should you compliment someone on their looks? Well, that depends.
Don’t ever compliment their physical features
It backfires and catcalling, of course, is not a compliment. On the other hand, let’s say someone is really into their clothes and you saw that they got a new pair of heels, you can, of course, remark on them because they will likely be flattered to hear they got a good pair of shoes that you like.
Bottomline is, to accept a compliment only requires a smile and a “thank you.” In order to give a great compliment back, you have to pay attention! So whenever you pay a compliment, it’s essential that it’s genuine. Otherwise, your body language and the way you say it will communicate that it’s not true, and then it really backfires on you.