Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to receive a compliment

Have you received a compliment and felt unsure of how to respond?

Do you ever wonder what the appropriate thing to say is when you get complimented?

This is an issue within English and your response can vary from culture to culture.

We’re going to look at how to think through your response to a compliment.

We’re also going to look at why this is so important.


Your Response Is Critical In Making Connections

You get a compliment and you feel unsure of how to respond.

You may brush it off or not say much at all.

Here’s the thing though–you may look insecure if you don’t accept a compliment.

You may not realize it but how you respond to a compliment can vary across cultures.

In the US, you want to be sure that you respond in a positive way to a compliment.

Brushing it off or coming back with a negative comment about yourself can set the wrong tone.


The Compliment Can Mean More Than You Think

In  the United States, the compliment can be a coded invitation to chitchat.

If you respond by simply saying, “Thank you” this can linguistically slam the door in the face of the person who is complimenting you.

This is very intersesting because even to natives, the assumption is that saying “Thank you!” is good enough.

It’s great to continue to the conversation,  and compliments can actually be a gateway or invitation to making small talk.

You have to use them as a way to keep the conversation going, and it’s important to remember that.


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There May Be A Lot In That Little Compliment

There is also a gender piece to this and some assumptions.

Many believe that women are supposed to “graciously” take a compliment.

This is an assumption by some, but the reality is that for everyone if you just sweetly say “thank you”, then you may be ending a conversation unknowingly.

By exchanging pleasant commentary after a compliment, this signals that you are open to a conversation.

This not only allows for an extended conversation, but also the chance to make connections.

You can still say “thank you”, but then add something onto the end of that.

If you don’t then you can close the door to additional conversation and may miss out on making a connection.

It’s all about context though because if somebody gives you a compliment while passing you on the street then it may feel odd to you to respond to that.


Think Before You Respond

The way in which you respond to a compliment can speak volumes.

Really take the time to think about how you respond when somebody compliments you.

It’s important to keep things positive so that you don’t give off the wrong message.

Here are a few tips for what to think of before you respond:

  1.  Your relationship: If you’re very close with the person and see them all the time, maybe thank you is okay. If you are close then you don’t necessarily need to use the compliment to lead to small talk with this person.
  2. The location: Are you in a place where small talk is helpful, like a party? Then the follow up is very important and so you want to really look at the situation and setting to determine what your response should be. 
  3. The amount of time you have: Is there even more time for a follow up? If it’s a quick interaction then a simple thank you may be enough since that’s all you have time for. 



Keep in mind how to respond to a compliment.

Notice how these things vary from culture to culture so that you are aware of the common response.

Whenever you have an opportunity for small talk and it’s appropriate, take the compliment!

To build the connection, a simple “Thank you!” may  not work and the person may be left wondering what to say next.

You have to think of where to take the conversation next.

You can use the compliment to create a conversation with dialogue from both of you–that compliment can act as a springboard for more conversation.


If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back with you as soon as possible. 

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