“Nothing else so inspires and heartens people as words of appreciation.”

Dale Carnegie, Author of ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

An essential skill for people who are part of a team is to recognize and appreciate when good work is performed, as it helps build stronger relationships among people (check out our previous blog on how to deliver praise).

But an equally essential skill is receiving praise appropriately from one’s team. Some of the more common responses to a compliment see-saw from brushing it off as ‘nothing’ or ‘no big deal’ to a discourse on the hurdles of completing the task, the ideation, its process, etc. When faced with a compliment, many hesitate from taking ownership of an achievement or are afraid to appear proud. Either way, it leaves the person offering the praise uncomfortable – and perhaps hesitant to express gratitude a second time.

Being graceful when receiving a compliment

Praise at the workplace can come from one’s boss, a colleague, or even a junior. There are many ways to show one’s acceptance of a well-thought-out compliment. To begin with, a simple “Thank you,” works just fine. For those looking to say more, here are some general rules that work as effective responses:

Respond affirmatively. As a manager, compliments may come your way often from team members – either for being a great leader or as a way to impress. As part of teamwork, colleagues will pat you on the back for a job well done. Even bosses or supervisors shower praise and gratitude when a team member helps meet company goals. In all of these cases, a simple “Thank you,” followed by general statements such as these listed here will do the job:

  • Thank you, it makes my day to hear that.
  • Thank you, I appreciate the feedback.
  • Thank you for expressing that. I put a lot of thought into this, thank you for noticing.
  • Thank you, I am glad you feel that way!

On a side note, it is a good practice for managers receiving praise to credit their team and highlight how group effort matters. Statements like, “Thank you, I was very happy with the outcomes, and the team worked hard to achieve it,” are affirmative, respectful, and share credit where it is due.

Accept the praise. This means not downplaying your effort, passing the credit to someone else, critiquing yourself, or displaying undue humility. Such responses could have some unwanted effect – the one praising you might feel that you are not confident of your achievement or suspect false humility. They might also feel like their gratitude or appreciation is being trivialized. Some statements to avoid are:

  • “Oh, it was nothing. No big deal.”
  • “I could have done better.”

Sync your body language. Maintain open body posture when receiving praise and gratitude. If verbally acknowledging praise in public is difficult for you, don’t leave the speaker without a response. Acknowledge the praise with a smile, a nod, or a wave, and follow it up in person with a statement of thanks.

When it comes to achievements, here’s a three-step rule to dealing with credit and praise. Own it. Share it. Leverage it.

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