Many people find it unbearably awkward to accept a compliment. When someone gives us a kind word, we often don’t freely accept it.
Psychologists Suzie Pilegi Pawelski and James Pawelski have identified three unhealthy ways that people respond to compliments: deflect, reciprocate, and discount.
When given a compliment many people feel obligated to brush it off, deny it, or to offer a compliment in return. Instead, the healthier response to a compliment is also the simplest: accept with gratitude.
Pawelski and Pawelski encourage direct eye-contact with a verbal “thank you.” You can also take this opportunity to enjoy the moment and open a conversation without citing reasons why the compliment is undeserved. For example, you could share a detail about the story behind whatever they chose to compliment.
Learning to accept a compliment can take vulnerability and humility, but it can also release us from a lot of social stress and open us up to more fruitful interactions.