1. Accept compliments with magical words that have worked for compliments past, present, and future: "Thank you." Variations include "Thank you, I appreciate the comment," "Thank you, it's kind of you to say," or "Thank you, it was a pleasure to be involved." It's almost like a dance; your partner initiates (compliment) and you respond (expression of gratitude).
2. If the compliment is the result of a collaborative effort, acknowledge the team's contributions: "Thank you, LisaMarie. We're glad you appreciated the event. Zac, Reem, Di'Anda, and I enjoy providing exceptional service. It was our pleasure," or "We worked hard on this project; thank you for acknowledging our efforts."
3. If the compliment is a professional tribute (a type of ceremonial speaking), you may receive a tangible item such as a trophy, certificate, or plaque. Accept with your left hand, which keeps your right hand free for a proper handshake. A comprehensive handshake guide is found here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-image-professor/200912/got-handshake-the-silent-communicator.
4. When receiving compliments, demonstrate appropriate nonverbal cues. Steady eye contact, a slight forward lean, and an interested/engaged facial expression communicate receptivity. Crossed arms, while comfortable or providing warmth, could be decoded as skepticism.
5. Don't disconfirm someone's compliment. Examples include "It was nothing," "It's not a big deal," "Don't worry about it", etc. When a compliment is authentically given, it should be gracefully received. Fight the urge to downplay the compliment, which may be read as a personal rejection.
6. If you receive a compliment, fight the urge to "out-compliment". "Thank you for highlighting my work, but we both know your expertise transcends the universe." No need. Don't one-up compliments. The beauty of praise is that if sincere and authentic, you're the star for that moment. Embrace your shine.
7. If you're complimented with a toast, demonstrate proper protocol. Toast recipients do not themselves drink; that's akin to singing "Happy Birthday" at your own party. Acknowledge the toast (a head nod and smile, for example), allow everyone to have a sip of beverage, and then offer a return toast (where you can then drink). This one's a bummer, Dear Reader, but still good to know.
8. Forward the light! Compliment others when praise is warranted. One of the most common complaints I hear in my image & etiquette consulting is that people feel their personal/professional contributions remain unnoticed. If your spouse cooks a delicious meal or a colleague brings a new client to the firm, a compliment may inspire them to do so again.
9. The proliferation of social media means compliments now arrive through different means. Written, spoken, blogged, Twittered, or Facebooked, you've been highlighted and there's an acceptance protocol (see number 1).
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