Get Cozy With Compliments

By: CHELSEA SZABO, Verbal Courage

“I don’t even care if I get more money, I just want someone to say thank you every once in a while.” – Verbal Courage Client


I hear similar remarks all the time from professional women, a simple thank you from a colleague or boss can go a really long way, but what happens when it’s more than a simple thank you?

What happens when someone smacks a big fat compliment on you?

Do you instantly (and maybe even frantically)…

  • Give the credit to someone else
  • Downplay it
  • Try to one up the sender’s compliment
  • Freeze in discomfort

If compliments send you wanting to flee the room, you’re not alone. It’s hard right? You don’t want to seem conceited, take credit for someone else’s work, or be left solo in the spotlight.

It’s such a tricky balance between craving praise and feeling discomfort around compliments. It’s such “a thing” that sociolinguists have bucketed 3 responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection.

If you fall outside of the acceptance bucket there are two key challenges that may bubble up in the workplace:

  1. If you can’t accept praise, you might feel under valued or a lack of appreciation from those around you
  2. Your discomfort around compliments may make them difficult for you to give them freely to others who deserve them – which mean those around you could be left searching for acknowledgment and appreciation from you

Here are 3 actions you can take TODAY to cozy up to compliments:

  1. Compliment Others. Put 3 pennies in your back pocket. Throughout the day give 3 people genuine compliments, every time you give a compliment, move 1 penny into your from pocket. (note – this may feel awkward at first, but keep with it).
  2. Start an, I ROCK JOURNAL. Grab a notebook and at the end of each day write 1-3 things you did great that day. (note-these don’t have to be life changing, perhaps you put the perfect amount of sugar in your coffee that morning – that counts, write it down, it’s more about the practice than the actual item).
  3. Accept compliments. Following a compliment, say thank you, be quiet and absorb how it feel (it will get easier as time goes on, and even start to feel good!)