Smile, Accept & Reply: How to Respond to a Compliment in Real Life (2023)

It’s always nice to receive a compliment. Whether someone notices your new haircut or compliments your smile, it’s definitely a confidence booster! Of course, along with compliments comes your obligatory response, which can sometimes be a little… awkward.

As great as it is to be complimented, the situation can get weird if you’re not sure how to respond. Do you deflect? Reject it? Make a self-deprecating joke to downplay it?

It turns out, the best way to respond to a compliment is to find some safe middle ground. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, but at the same time, you don’t want to be rude, right?

How often do you and your partner give each other compliments? Does it matter? Learn more about showing appreciation for each other using Relish, our award-winning relationship coaching app! Take our free relationship qiz to get started!

Here, we’ll take a look at the dos and don’ts of responding to a compliment, along with some real-life examples:

Responding to a Compliment: What Not To Do

Before diving into the best ways to respond to a compliment, here are a few tips for what not to do:

Don’t Put Yourself Down

Scene: *Them: “That shirt looks great on you!” You: “Well, I needed a new wardrobe to help hide all the weight I’ve gained.”*

First of all, you’re likely making the complimenter uncomfortable! (How are they supposed to respond to that?) Secondly — and most importantly — you’re diminishing your own value. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn a flattering comment into an opportunity to put yourself down. All it does is create an incredibly awkward interaction.

Don’t Ignore It

Scene: *Them: “Wow, did you get a haircut? I love it!” You: [silence] Them: ... “Hey, did you get a haircut? It looks really good!”*


*Them: “Your new haircut looks awesome!” You: “Yeah, you ready to go to lunch?”*

It’s understandable that, sometimes, you simply don’t want to hear a compliment. Unfortunately, by ignoring it, you’ll likely cause the complimenter to think you didn’t hear them, which encourages them to repeat it. Now you’ve heard the same compliment twice, making the situation twice as uncomfortable!

The worst way to respond to a compliment is by pretending you didn’t hear it or changing the subject without acknowledging it. Not only does it create an unbearably awkward scenario, but it also makes the complimenter feel rejected.

Ignoring compliments can hurt, especially when you’re in a romantic relationship. With the Relish relationship-coaching app, learn the best ways to communicate with and show appreciation for your partner. Ready to get started? Click here to take our relationship quiz for free!

Don’t Downplay It

Scene: *Them: “Your band sounded awesome tonight!” You: “Well, the acoustics in the room were on point, they could’ve made anyone sound great!”*

When you dilute a compliment like this, it can give the impression that you don’t think the complimenter’s comment is sincere. Again, you’re making them feel awkward, and their complement unappreciated.

Don’t Immediately Fire Back a Compliment

Scene: *Them: “Your hair looks really good styled like that!” You: “Well, it’s nothing compared to your hairstyle!” *

As nice as that might appear, it doesn’t exactly sound sincere. The complimenter may believe you are only complimenting them as a knee-jerk reaction to their compliment. They might respond with gratitude, but internally, they likely know you didn’t mean it.

Don’t Shift the Praise to Someone Else

Scene: *Them: “Your presentation at work today was amazing!” You: “Well, Tom was the one that came up with most of it, I was just the speaker.” *

Sure, Tom probably helped a lot, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve any credit! It’s fine to share praise, but don’t completely transfer it to another person.

Don’t Flat-Out Deny It

Scene: *Them: “That speech you gave was incredibly insightful!” You: “Nah, it wasn’t that great.” *

Much like downplaying a compliment, straight up denying it is an insult to the person giving it. It may imply that their opinion is wrong, they don’t have good taste, or they are being insincere.

Responding to a Compliment: How to Do It

Now that we’ve covered what not to do, here’s what you should do when someone pays you a compliment:

Show Gratitude

In all its simplicity, a compliment is praise for something — and that deserves some gratitude. The very best thing you can say in response to a compliment? “Thank you.” That’s it! All you really need to do is acknowledge that you appreciate what they said.

Give an Appropriate Follow-Up

While a simple “thank you” works perfectly, you may be inclined to follow up with another comment. That’s great as long as you choose the right one! Here are some examples that avoid deflecting, ignoring, downplaying, or denying:

*Them: “You played a great game out there today!” You: “Thanks! I’m glad we were able to pull off a win.”*

*Them: “Your new haircut looks so great!” You: “Thank you! It was time for a change.”*

*Them: “You are seriously the funniest person I know.” You: “Ha! Thanks! I definitely love making people laugh.”*

Every now and then, complimenting the other person in response works too — as long as you are sincere:

*Them: “You really crushed that presentation at work today.” You: “Thanks! You really knocked it out of the park yourself!”*

If the Compliment Means a Lot to You, Let Them Know

All compliments are great, but if someone gives you one that truly hits you in the feels, tell them! For example:

*Them: “You are so strong to get through that, I truly admire you for it.” You: “Wow, thank you so much. I really needed to hear that right now, it means a lot.” *

Going the extra mile will make the complimenter feel valued and appreciated.

Remember That Accepting a Compliment Doesn’t Make You Conceited

So many times, we tend to deflect or deny a compliment as a way to appear modest. We don’t want to come across as totally full of ourselves, so we pretend the compliment isn’t a big deal.

Here’s the problem with that: You’re not complimenting yourself — someone else is! It’s not conceited to accept and appreciate when another person praises you for something. You don’t want to contradict or ignore a heartfelt comment, even if you don’t agree with it.

By fully accepting a compliment, you are telling the other person that you believe and appreciate what they have to say. At that moment, it’s not just about you — it’s about the person giving the praise, too.

When responding to a compliment, remember that it’s completely okay to feel proud of yourself! Show yourself some praise for your accompaniments or qualities. You can still be grateful and appreciative without coming off as cocky or arrogant. After all, you deserve it — and the complimenter was simply bringing it to your attention!

Admiration and appreciation are incredibly important in any romantic relationship! Learn why with Relish, an award-winning relationship coaching app. Get access to therapist-approved quizzes, insights, games, and lessons, while communicating with an expert coach any time of day. Download the app and start your 7-day free trial!

By Caitlin Killoren on Dec 20, 2021

With a degree in Psychology and over a decade of experience, Caitlin has made improving people's relationships both her career and her passion. Her work has been featured in publications like Bustle, Well + Good, and Goalcast, and she currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and giant fluffy dog, Remy.


How do you respond to a smile compliment? ›

Include the word “thanks” in a short and sweet response.
  1. “Aw thank you! The people around me must be wondering why I'm smiling so big at my phone.”
  2. “Thanks! It makes me so happy you feel that way.”
  3. “Thank you, that means a lot to me.”
  4. “Aw thanks. That's really sweet.”
  5. “That's really kind of you to say! Thank you!”

How do you respond to a genuine compliment? ›

How to Accept a Compliment
  1. “Thank you, it makes my day to hear that.”
  2. “I really put a lot of thought into this, thank you for noticing.”
  3. “Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to express that.”
  4. “Thank you, I am happy to hear you feel that way!”
Oct 12, 2019

How do you accept a compliment? ›

I've also learned a simple trick: When someone gives you a compliment, just say, “Thank you.” Don't resist it. Don't overthink it. Don't question. Simply acknowledge.

How do you humbly accept a compliment? ›

How to Receive Compliments More Gracefully
  1. Just Say "Thank You"
  2. Share What Their Compliment Means to You.
  3. Acknowledge Others without Diminishing Yourself.
  4. Stop Putting Yourself Down.
  5. Don't Feel Obligated to Reciprocate.
Sep 1, 2021

How do you respond to thank you in response to a compliment? ›

Sample phrases to use to respond to a compliment
  1. Thank you for your kind words.
  2. I really appreciate your feedback.
  3. That's great, you made our day.
  4. That's what we like to hear.
  5. We're happy you're happy.
  6. You put a big smile on our faces.

How do you continue a conversation after a compliment? ›

Just take it. The compliment was never up for debate, it wasn't a question, this is someone coming to you with something that they believe to be true. Don't discredit it with false humbleness. You can just say “thank you so much, I really appreciate that”.

Do you say thanks for the compliment? ›

If someone pays you a compliment, another way to respond is to mention and recognize their acknowledgment. Having a manager or colleague take time out of their day to compliment you is a very kind gesture, and it can be good to thank them for their words of affirmation.

How do you respond to I really appreciate that? ›

How do you respond when someone says “I really appreciate it”? “You're welcome!” That's the most common response.
Possible responses are:
  1. “No problem.”
  2. “Think nothing of it.”
  3. “You're welcome.”
  4. “[It's] My pleasure.”
  5. “Anytime.”

How do you accept compliments and criticism? ›

First, when someone says something nice about you, simply say “Thanks” in a way that is clear, grateful, and accepting. Secondly, ask people what they liked about what you did. Thirdly, find something in what they said that you can agree with.

How do you say thank you confidently? ›

Use these phrases to let someone know how much you appreciate what they have done for you:
  1. I am grateful for your support.
  2. I appreciate you.
  3. I appreciate your taking the time.
  4. I value the insights and guidance you provide.
  5. I wanted to thank you as soon as possible.
  6. I truly appreciate the confidence you showed in me.
Dec 22, 2022

How do you accept a compliment even if it's from yourself? ›

Neff said. So compliments can be useful, but how do you actually deal with the awkwardness of accepting them? Keep it short and sweet, with responses like: “Thank you, I'm glad you said that,” or “I appreciate your noticing, thank you for letting me know.” No word vomit or undermining allowed.

What does it mean to accept a compliment? ›

The rule of thumb when you receive a compliment is to simply and humbly say "Thank you" or "Thank you; I appreciate your kind words." By accepting the compliment, you show gratitude for the other person's kind remarks and do not come off as vain, bashful or prideful.

Why is it important to accept compliments? ›

Truth is, when someone notices and appreciates something you've done, they're usually being honest. So, when you receive a compliment, believe it, and take it for what it is: A verbal pat on the back. You did a good job, someone is acknowledging you for it, and you're receiving an honor that's well-deserved.

How do you brush off compliments? ›

There are three typical ways we brush aside compliments: by deflecting (You think? I don't know about that...), reciprocating (Thanks, I love the way you...), and discounting (Thanks, but I wish I'd...). The alternative, they explain, is to simply accept a compliment.

How do you accept thanks? ›

Ways of accepting someone's thanks - thesaurus
  1. you're welcome. phrase. used in reply to someone who has thanked you.
  2. no problem. phrase. ...
  3. not at all. phrase. ...
  4. don't mention it. phrase. ...
  5. it's no bother. phrase. ...
  6. (it's) my pleasure. phrase. ...
  7. it's/that's all right. phrase. ...
  8. it's nothing/think nothing of it. phrase.

Do you have to accept a compliment? ›

A compliment, however small, she says, is a big deal, and it's important to acknowledge it and allow the person to express their gratitude towards you or what you've done without interrupting them by saying it was nothing.

How do you respond to you're sweet? ›

You can reply to such a compliment in various ways: Thank you. Aww…that's so sweet of you. Thank you for the compliment.

How do you respond to I'm flattered? ›

I'm flattered is a compliment to you. So you just say whatever you think would fit the scenerio. You could simply say Really? Thanks!! or something along those lines.

What should I say after a nice conversation? ›

“And you too” is the best answer to this question. It's a short answer that means 'it was nice talking to you too' or 'it was nice to talk to you too. ' Native English speakers also add “thank you, and you too,” to show that they are grateful for the compliment before they return it.

How do you end a conversation positively? ›

How to end a conversation politely
  1. It was a pleasure catching up with you.
  2. Thank you for taking the time to catch up with me.
  3. Excuse me, I want to ask the host a question before they leave.
  4. Please don't let me keep you from your work.
  5. It's time for me to get back to work, I'm on a deadline.
Nov 9, 2022

How do you appreciate and say thank you? ›

Personal thank you
  1. I appreciate you!
  2. You are the best.
  3. I appreciate your help so much.
  4. I wanted to thank you for your help.
  5. I value the help you've given me.
  6. I am so thankful for you in my life.
  7. Thanks for the support.
  8. Thanks for all you do.
Aug 3, 2022

How do you tell someone you truly appreciate them? ›

15 Ways To Say "I Appreciate You"
  1. "Thank you for being such a great friend." ...
  2. "I'm thankful for all that you do for me." ...
  3. "Your support means everything to me. ...
  4. "I couldn't have done it without you." ...
  5. "I appreciate your kindness." ...
  6. "Your friendship is a gift I'll never be able to repay." ...
  7. "Thank you for being there for me."

How do you appreciate good explanation? ›

Top 10 Ways to Show Appreciation
  1. Give a Gift. Giving a gift shows your loved ones that we are grateful for them and value the role they play in our lives. ...
  2. Write An Appreciation Note. ...
  3. Compliment Them. ...
  4. Create Something Homemade. ...
  5. Take Her Out for Coffee. ...
  6. Lend a Listening Ear. ...
  7. Do Something They Enjoy. ...
  8. Make a Photo Album.
Apr 19, 2022

What can I say instead of I would appreciate it? ›

Conversation. Other alternatives to 'please' include: - I'd appreciate it if you could... - It would be great if you would... - I'd be grateful if you'd...

How do you accept criticism in real life situation? ›

The next time you receive constructive criticism from your manager or a peer, use this six-step process to handle the encounter with tact and grace.
  1. Stop Your First Reaction. ...
  2. Remember the Benefit of Getting Feedback. ...
  3. Listen for Understanding. ...
  4. Say Thank You. ...
  5. Ask Questions to Deconstruct the Feedback. ...
  6. Request Time to Follow Up.

What do you say to accept criticism? ›

You can simply say, “You are right.” Then move on. You don't need to go into a lot of detail about why your critic is right. Just acknowledging that you agree with their perspective will help the critic to feel like his or her point has been heard.

What are some positive ways to respond to criticism? ›

Dealing With Your Initial Response to Criticism
  • Step 1: Stay Calm. The first thing to do is remain calm, whether the criticism comes from a colleague or a boss. ...
  • Step 2: Repeat the Criticism. ...
  • Step 3: Open Up Both Perspectives. ...
  • Step 4: Move On Politely.

What is a stronger word than thank you? ›

If you really want to show your appreciation, Haden recommends using these two words instead: “I'm grateful.” The power of showing gratitude in the office isn't a secret. According to a 2013 survey, about 80% of Americans said receiving gratitude motivated them to work harder.

How do you show appreciation without saying thank you? ›

Sometimes saying thank you is just not enough. Here, columnists share their most effective ways to show appreciation.
  1. Write a poem. You don't have to spend a lot of money to make someone feel appreciated. ...
  2. Do it over time. ...
  3. Take the time to write. ...
  4. Use the original social media. ...
  5. Give the gift of time. ...
  6. Be specific.
Sep 26, 2014

How do you say thank you without sounding cheesy? ›

Therefore, let's learn the following ways to say 'thank you'!
  1. Thanks a million/ Thanks a bunch. Thanks a million, you have helped me so much!
  2. I really appreciate it. ...
  3. That means a lot to me. ...
  4. That's really kind of you. ...
  5. I don't know what to say. ...
  6. You shouldn't have. ...
  7. I owe you one. ...
  8. I couldn't have done it without you.
Nov 23, 2020

How do you accept compliments with low self-esteem? ›

Accepting the compliment affirms their judgment and your positive relationship with them.
Assume that the compliment is sincere.
  1. Try to give your peers the benefit of the doubt. ...
  2. Reverse your way of thinking. ...
  3. Consider who is giving the compliment if you know them.

Why do I feel awkward accepting compliments? ›

All this to say, many of us respond awkwardly to compliments as an unconscious act of self-protection. Unfortunately, this unconscious self-protection often robs us of human connection. It keeps us from letting in the kind words and gratitude of others.

What do you say when you praise yourself? ›

Give Yourself a Compliment: The Power of Positive Self-Talk
  1. I'm proud of myself for having the courage to try.
  2. I forgive myself for my mistakes and I'm going to learn from them.
  3. I deserve the success coming my way.
  4. I trust my training and the work I've put in; I will reach my goals.
Dec 15, 2021

Why do compliments make people happy? ›

Compliments help us communicate that appreciation we feel toward one another. “I would define a compliment as any sort of sincere appreciation of a trait in someone or a behavior or an appearance,” Berger says. And that makes us feel good.

What does it mean when someone compliments you? ›

The verb compliment means to praise, congratulate, or say something admiring to someone. It can also include showing kindness. Compliments may come in the form of a friendly gesture or a gift. “Compliment people.

Why do compliments make me so happy? ›

In conclusion, compliments feel good because they activate reward areas in the brain, such as the striatum. However, giving people compliments not only makes them feel good, it also helps them to learn and acquire new skills.

What do you call a person who compliments a lot? ›

Gaslighters/Narcissists: Masters of the Compliment-Insult, or "Complisult."

Is it rude to ignore a compliment? ›

Denial and deflection insults the giver.

When you deflect or deny that praise, you're basically contradicting them; you're saying that they don't have good judgment, discernment, or taste, or that they're insincere — that they don't know what they're talking about. You're returning their kind words with an insult.

How do you feel when someone praises you? ›

"It makes them feel really good about that person who complimented and about themselves." A good compliment doesn't have to be related to one's appearance, Sussman says. Commending someone for a character trait, an achievement, or the effort that they put into doing something such as preparing a meal can go a long way.

How do you respond to a flirty compliment? ›

If he sends you a flirty compliment, respond in kind. If he sends you a really sincere compliment, send him a sincere compliment back.
6 August 2021.
  1. “You think I'm cute? You're not so bad yourself.”
  2. “I think we'll get along. ...
  3. “You're really handsome, too. ...
  4. “I'm having trouble concentrating today.

How do you respond to a hot compliment? ›

Say thank you

Always smile and say the two most powerful words, “Thank you.” When someone compliments you for anything – from a sexy hairdo to professional skills – look at them, smile, and say, “Thank you very much.” Smiling doesn't cost a penny.

What is a good sentence for flatter? ›

Example Sentences

Verb He flattered her with comments about her youthful appearance. It flattered her to be asked to sing at their wedding. That dress really flatters your figure.

What is a sentence for flattered? ›

I felt very flattered to have been asked to join the board. I was flattered that he remembered me. I feel flattered that they should be so supportive. We're flattered and honoured to receive this award.

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