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How to Gracefully Accept a Compliment

04/10/2015 05:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 10, 2015
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Most people love to be noticed, but few know how to accept a compliment gracefully. Instead, they downplay the compliment or reject it entirely.

When you receive a compliment from someone you admire, your first reaction may be to deflect the attention. For example, when a friend expresses their gratitude for your help, you may be prone to redirect the compliment and respond with something like, "Oh, I wasn't that helpful. Anyone could have done it."

That response downplays your role and insults the person who paid you the compliment in the first place. When you deny, deflect or self-insult, others may misinterpret your actions and think of you as ungrateful or insecure.

Gratitude is the only acceptable way to acknowledge someone's kind remarks. Sincere thankfulness won't give off the appearance of pride or vanity. Instead, it shows you acknowledge a person's recognition and appreciation.

Whenever you receive a compliment or accolade, but don't know what to say, use these tips to accept compliments with grace.

Humbly say, "Thank you." It is the simplest phrase you can say, but it sends a powerful message. It is unassuming, humble and shows your gratitude. When you receive a compliment, say something like, "Thank you, I appreciate your kind words."

Don't try to one-up a compliment. Avoid the temptation to "out-compliment" someone. You may feel inclined to say, "Thank you, but everyone knows your contributions were much more valuable than mine." Simply embrace the moment and show your gratitude.

Mind your nonverbal cues. Body language is a powerful communication tool. If your body language doesn't match your words, you may send the wrong message. Crossed arms or casual posture may be misinterpreted as disinterest. Use direct eye contact to engage the person with whom you're speaking. Lean slightly forward and smile when you receive someone's praise.

Acknowledge your team's effort. When you receive recognition for something you did with others, acknowledge their work. For example, if you co-host a bridal shower with a friend, publicly recognize her effort. As people leave the event, say something like, "I'm so glad you enjoyed the party. I'll pass your kind words along to Sarah, who helped plan the event."

Follow proper protocol. If you receive an award at a public ceremony, accept the award with your left hand. This will allow you to hold the trophy, plaque or certificate and leave your right hand free to shake hands. Show humility and gratitude when you thank those who congratulate you.

Receive toasts with grace. If someone pays you a compliment in the form of a toast, don't drink from your glass at the end of the speech. It's the equivalent of patting your own back or singing "Happy Birthday" at your own party. The best course of action is to nod your head in acknowledgement and smile. When everyone has enjoyed a sip of their beverage, stand and offer a toast in return.

For more etiquette and gratitude tips, visit Jacqueline Whitmore's blog or "like" her Facebook page.