If you asked someone whether they’d rather receive a compliment or criticism, they’d most certainly respond with the former. And yet, most people don’t know exactly how to graciously accept a kudos from peers or management. This phenomenon is particularly evident in women, including yours truly.
Research has repeatedly shown us that women underestimate their qualifications and overestimate their shortfalls. Nowhere is this more obvious than when you actually compliment a woman on her achievements. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few homeruns. A well-executed speech, a record month in my job, and a new board invitation to name a few.
This may sound odd, but bear with me. At one point, I had this sort of out-of-body experience where I heard myself repeatedly saying, “Yes, well it was an impactful speech because it was such an important night,” “I’m not very funny, so I had to practice a lot. Very nerve-wracking!” and “It’s really just an influx of business that has fed my placement fees.” You’d think it was all luck that got me here and not the hours spent researching and practicing my speech, countless calls to candidates, intentionally studying sales and recruiting techniques, etc. No need to be concerned with competitors or critics; I was undermining myself!
So, I took the time to research courteous ways to accept compliments. Here they are:
1. Acknowledge your team, but don’t deflect from your own efforts.
“Thank you so much! Our project team was amazing! Everyone had different strengths and it came together so well.”
2. Watch your body language and avoid looking disinterested or bored because you’re uncomfortable.
“Thanks. Anyway, did they just restock the bruschetta?”
3. Don’t one-up a compliment by complimenting your complimenter with a bigger compliment.
“Well, I could never do all the amazing things you do! You are the greatest ever!”
4. Say “Thank you, I appreciate that” and stop talking. “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”
While humility is a trait worth nurturing, the inability to take credit for the extra work we put in isn’t helping women break any glass ceilings. It’s more complex and nuanced than that I know, but girl, take the praise when it’s given. You deserve it.
Thanks for reading.