2022-03-11

2 minute read

Advice given on March 11, 2022.

Gracefully Taking A Compliment

Hey Jay,

I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to gracefully accept compliments. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by such kind people, but I feel so awkward when someone gives me a compliment. I tend to freeze up a bit and say something like “thank you, you’re too kind”. But this feels so strange, so any suggestions you have on how I could improve the way I receive compliments would be much appreciated. To clarify, I am talking about work-related compliments along the lines of “great work on X” or “this report was really useful,” as opposed to those related to my style or taste in movies (both of which I have no problems accepting compliments about).

Grace

Grace,

This is such a nice situation to be in. Clearly you are not so awkward about receiving compliments that people have decided to stop complimenting you on your work! Humbly, I will say I personally don’t receive a ton of compliments, but I think I can still offer you some advice. It sounds like you are a bit bashful about the compliments, maybe because you feel they are undeserved or too much for the effort or work you put in. I think the first step to getting around this awkwardness is understanding that people do not compliment you out of obligation; compliments are almost always voluntary and genuinely meant. If someone is giving you a compliment, even if it is for something small to you, it may mean something more to them. Once you internalize this fact, it may be easier to understand the value you are providing to your coworkers, and subsequently it may be easier to accept their compliments. The one thing you should not do in this kind of a work setting is downplay the work and say something like “oh thanks, it was nothing”. Then your coworkers might start to take your effort and work for granted. I think a short and simple, “thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful” or similar is the best way to respectfully acknowledge this type of a compliment.

Thanks for the great question,

Jay

Sorry Machine

Hey Jay,

I think I am a serial apologizer. I find myself constantly saying “sorry” or apologizing for minor inconveniences, or sometimes apologizing for things that are neither inconveniences nor in my control to begin with. Last week it rained and I caught myself apologizing to someone for the weather! As if I could do anything about that! How can I stop being such a sorry machine?

Thanks,

Apologizer

Apologizer,

It is good to be apologetic in some situations, but I agree with you, it is certainly possible to apologize too much. This is a bit of an unfortunate habit you’ve gotten yourself into. I think this habit, like any other, is a bit difficult to break. Step one might be slowing down the pace at which you speak and taking a pause to think before you say something. Maybe you’ve avoided the all-too-common “likes,” “ums,” and other filler words with your “sorrys” and other apologies. Generally, I think the easiest way to break any speaking habit is to speak more slowly and carefully consider your words before you say them.

Good luck,

Jay