How to accept a compliment

Why do we have so much trouble accepting something so nice?

That outfit looks absolutely a-mazing... totes stunning! OMG, you have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen! Oh, and did I tell you how much I adore your laugh? If these compliments made you cringe, read on, sister, coz it’s time for a complivention (yep, a compliment intervention – it’s totally a word). We spoke to Anna Musson from The Good Manners Company to find out just how to accept a compliment graciously.



“In Australia, we don’t like people who boast, so in the interests of looking humble, we often reject compliments,” says Anna. Everyone is familiar with the backhand to a well-intended compliment. If someone compliments you on your dress, you’d probably tell them how old it is (“Oh, this? I’ve had it for years. Nothing special!”). “This forces the compliment giver to reiterate their compliment, which is a no-no,” says Anna. Flat-out rejecting the compliment isn’t a good idea, either. Avoid saying things like “shut up” or telling someone they’re wrong when they compliment you; it will make them feel unappreciated.


According to Anna, the best way to accept a compliment is to say thank you. “Smile, say ‘thank you’ and move on.” Who knew it was that simple? The hard part is overcoming the need to deny the compliment with every part of your being (see above for tips). So the next time you receive a compliment, try saying something like this: “Thank you, that’s really nice of you to say”, “Really? Thank you, that’s lovely”, or “Thank you for saying that – it makes me feel really good!”. You’ll make the person complimenting you feel appreciated, and you just might start to believe what they said, which can’t be a bad thing!



Here’s the problem with our poor performance when it comes to accepting compliments. We might think we are being super-humble by not accepting them, but instead we’re probably hurting the person who is complimenting us. “It makes them regret saying their compliment and they will make a note to hold back next time,” says Anna. “A well-mannered person will be gracious when receiving a compliment.”


When you receive a compliment for anything, say “thank you” and don’t go on. It’s easy to fall into a trap of using compliments to keep talking about how great you are. Anna’s advice: “If they like your hair, don’t agree with how great your hair is and how clever they are to notice – no-one likes a big-noter; it’s a fine line.”


BFF: You look amazing!
Don’t say: Don’t be stupid. You’re just trying to be nice.
Say: Thanks! That’s totally just made my day.

Cute guy: You’ve got a great smile!
Don’t say: OMG, no I don’t – you’re totally making that up!
Say: Thanks! [Insert flirty smile here.]

Mum: Sweetie, you’re doing really well at school this year!
Don’t say: Whatever, I’m not even trying.

Say: That’s so nice of you to say; I’ve really been trying. Thank you!

Words: Sarah Sheridan