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How do you receive compliments?

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Being Assertive quote by Robert Louis Stevenson

Visualize this scene and think of how you would handle it

You have just finished a presentation in front of important stakeholders for approving a project.

You’ve put in a lot of hard work and many an hour outside of work to get it just right.

The stakeholders buy-in. Your project gets the much coveted Go Ahead Signal.

A colleague walks up to you, shakes your hand and says, “Well done. You were brilliant!”.


How do you respond to the compliment?

Do You

  1. smile and say “Thank You”
  2. smile but wonder if the colleague has a hidden agenda and what he wants
  3. smile and brush it off saying it was not all that great and that you got lucky


Which one did you select?

Was it A? Responding with a simple smile and Thank You reflects healthy self-confidence and Assertive Behavior.

If your response was B then the suspicion on your part indicates aggressive patterns while a C reflects a low sense of self-esteem and confidence in one’s abilities.


How you respond to a compliment is a good indicator of your sense of self-esteem and self-confidence

Never underestimate the value of an honest compliment


One can learn a lot about oneself and others from the way compliments are received or given. We may not realize it but an honest compliment when given with sincerity can make a big difference to both the giver and receiver.

Assertiveness is all about having the ability to respect and admit your self-worth when receiving compliments. It is also about respecting the worth of others when giving compliments.

It may not be all that easy though. We all have our cultural backgrounds, parental and school tutoring where we may have been taught that being confident of our abilities was a sign of arrogance, how being humble was more important and not to show off.

In some cultures, there is an instilled fear of the ‘Evil Eye’ – don’t be happy if others notice your achievement, you will have bad luck!

However, there is nothing in our backgrounds that tells us that we need to be aggressive or so meek that we cannot be honest, open and direct in our communications with others. Nothing that says we cannot accept our worth as well as that of others.

When you know you have done a good job, smile, be happy and graciously accept the compliment. Maybe give a return compliment, like “Thank You. I really appreciate your support.” The choices are endless.

The next time you find yourself displaying behavior that is not assertive, take a step back and ask yourself, where is it coming from? Which limiting belief is holding you back? Is it a fear or self-perceived weakness?

If you are aware of your fear or weakness, then practice the Confrontation Technique in my post Confront and Banish You Fears and Weaknesses Better yet, do the self-coaching exercise on

Sometimes it’s more a case of lack of self-confidence and this is covered in my Kindle book Self-Confidence in 8 Steps.


So, coming back to my original question, how do you receive compliments? Tell me about it in the comments box below!



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10 Responses to “How do you receive compliments?”

  1. Great post Vatsala! I’m definitely confident in my unique value and passionate about my message, but I also can be uncomfortable accepting compliments. I love them and appreciate them because I know they’re coming from a place of giving thanks, so I just need to give thanks in return.
    Thanks and warm wishes,

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog and an even bigger Thank You for the compliment! Our childhood training to be humble and self-deprecating somehow gets translated into the unassertive tendency to be uncomfortable with compliments, even when we know we have done a good job. The best way is to spread happiness with a return compliment.

  2. Debra Jason says:

    I have learned to accept compliments more gracefully than I did in the past. I can catch it in other people and therefore, have become more aware about it myself.

    When someone compliments me, I say “thanks” vs. “thanks, but….”

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Hi Debra! Thanks for visiting the Blog. I agree that observing others can tell us a lot about ourselves. Accept the sincere compliment and know that you have earned it is empowering. When we bring the ‘but’ into our acceptance, there is a danger that the person who gives the compliment might start doubting if the compliment was well-deserved.

  3. Tai says:

    I used to do number 2 and 3. It’s taken a lot of practice to get to #1. And it was all in my mind. I’ve learned over time to just bask in the feeling of someone appreciating what I did.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Like the saying goes, Practice makes Perfect. It does take time to get to #1 but when we do, the feeling is sublime. Thanks for dropping by at the blog, Tai

  4. Wonderful post with really clear examples of the different responses we can have when we receive a complement.

    I really relate to your comments on how people are raised. Complements were not handed out often when I was young. (Or if they were, I was too self conscious to hear them.) We were to stay modest and humble. As a mom, I chose to break that family cycle and teach healthy gratitude for the complements we receive as well as how to give them with sincerity and authenticity.

    It has taken me years of practice to accept a complement graciously. When I was younger I could not even respond! I would turn red and walk away, not even realizing how rude I was being. Over the years, I have been fortunate to have mentors that have helped me see what I was doing. When someone complements us, they are blessing us. To push it off or diminish it is actually to push that person away.

    My transition was in phases. At first, it was easier for me to accept complements for things that I did well. I could graciously say thank you. However, it took me up until the last few years to be able to do the same when someone complemented my appearance. I still find myself occasionally down-playing the complement when it is in regards to how I look. Fortunately, I catch myself now and can switch to a simple “thank you.”

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you, Stephanie. I’m sure our parents and teachers meant well by trying to inculcate the quality of humility in us but somewhere our sense of self-esteem and assertiveness got affected too! Kudos for breaking the family cycle – one kid, one family at a time!

      I can relate to accepting compliments about one’s appearance. Anyone who has had teenage acne or puppy fat has to work on accepting that the caterpillar has evolved into a butterfly. My Dad guided me through the acne years by telling me that I had brains that were far superior to acne free skin. It kept me going!

  5. Such a great discussion; culture, family history and also distinctions of expectations among the sexes have so much to do with behavior, perceived options and planning in every regard. Thank goodness for a healthy sense of self!

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I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

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Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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