Do you cringe when you receive a compliment? Do you beat yourself up for days after an awkward response filled with self-deprecating humor or a complete rejection of the compliment?
Fear not, as we are about to turn those ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ into polished and professional ‘thank yous’ and ‘I appreciate that’!
In this blog post, we’ll talk all about how to respond to compliments at work. You’ll discover:
- Tips on how to respond to compliments at work,
- Examples of responses to compliments, and
- Benefits of knowing how to professionally respond to compliments.
Table of Contents
The best way to respond to a compliment at work is to keep it simple with a genuine ‘thank you’. A humble response such as ‘Thank you. It means a lot.’ is always a good option.
If you want, you can then express how much you appreciate their kind words or you can return the compliment.
Here are a few general responses you can try:
“I appreciate the compliment. Thank you.”
“Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the feedback.”
How you respond to compliments can impact your professional relationships and your workplace environment, so it’s important to handle them with grace and positivity.
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when you’re responding to a compliment:
- Express gratitude,
- Be genuine,
- Return the compliment,
- Stay humble,
- Practice in advance, and
- Don’t deflect or downplay.
We’ll now go over these tips in more detail.
The key component of responding to a compliment is gratitude. It doesn’t have to be overly long or dramatic — a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
To express sincere gratefulness, make sure to maintain eye contact and offer a genuine ‘thank you’. Friendly body language such as a warm smile will also reinforce your gratitude.
Saying ‘thank you’ not only acknowledges the compliment, but it also establishes positive relationships in the workplace, as your colleague will feel heard and appreciated.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
If you need creative and alternative ways of saying ‘you’re welcome’ in a professional setting, read our blog post:
The second most important component of responding to a compliment is being genuine.
To make sure your response is genuine, avoid false modesty and self-depreciation. These can undermine your message and make you seem disingenuous. Instead, graciously accept the compliment.
A Clinical Associate Professor specialized in Corporate Communication, Dr. Cassandra LeClair, shared her views on being genuine when responding to compliments:
“Be gracious and thank the person in a genuine manner. This shows that you appreciate their kind words and that you are confident in your abilities.”
Being authentic in your response showcases your professionalism and helps build genuine relationships with team members.
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
Being genuine and transparent is essential in the workplace. Practicing direct communication will help you be more straightforward and get your ideas across clearly. To find out more about direct communication and how to use it in the workplace, read our blog post:
Returning the compliment is also a valuable strategy to keep in mind when you receive a compliment.
Research has shown that people give fewer compliments than they would like and that they underestimate the positive effects compliments have on others. Therefore, even though returning a compliment may not be applicable in every situation, if you have something nice to say, don’t hesitate to say it.
For example, imagine you’re working on a project and your coworker compliments you on your hard work. It’s a great opportunity for you to return the compliment. Here’s what that exchange could look like:
“I wanted to let you know that I value your hard work on this project. Your efforts have made a huge difference in our team. Well done!”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it, and I must say, I’ve also been fascinated by your dedication to this project. You’ve also been working really hard.”
To stress further, make sure your return compliment is sincere and relevant to the situation. You don’t want to do it just for the sake of returning a compliment, as insincere flattery can backfire.
Returning a compliment will show that you genuinely appreciate your coworker and have a keen eye for their efforts.
Although many people have a hard time receiving and responding to compliments, others find that receiving compliments feels great. If you’re one of those people, you probably have no trouble responding to compliments, because it’s a positive experience that brings you joy and boosts your confidence.
However, don’t let that confidence turn into arrogance. It’s important to always remain humble when you’re responding to compliments — don’t take it as an opportunity to sing your own praises.
Dr. LeClair agrees that responding to compliments isn’t the time to brag about yourself:
“Don’t use the compliment as an opportunity to brag about yourself. Focus on the task or project that you were complimented on. You can say something like, ‘I’m proud of the work we did on that project,’ or ‘I’m glad that our team was able to achieve our goals’.”
Furthermore, you can show humility by acknowledging the efforts of others if the success is a result of teamwork. Dr. LeClair agrees and adds that praising your colleagues will show your team spirit:
“Share the credit. If you received the compliment for teamwork, be sure to share the credit with your team members. This shows that you are a team player and that you value the contributions of others.”
In the workplace, humility is a valuable trait. Therefore, make sure to stay humble and don’t let the compliments get to your head.
If you have trouble confidently responding to compliments, you could benefit from practicing in advance. Practicing your responses can help you with any anxiety or awkwardness you may feel when you receive a compliment.
For example, if you’re going into the office with a fresh haircut, you’re probably anticipating a few compliments. Try to think about how you’ll respond to the compliments to avoid feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
You can rehearse your responses with a trusted friend who can provide some constructive feedback to make your responses more professional and natural. Or, you can mentally prepare by thinking about various types of compliments and how you would like to respond to them.
Furthermore, Dr. LeClair provides a valuable tip on how to stay composed in this type of uncomfortable situation:
“If you feel uncomfortable receiving a compliment, it’s okay to take a moment to pause before responding to give you time to collect your thoughts and provide a more gracious response.”
When the moment arises and you receive a compliment, you will feel more confident, composed, and able to respond with ease if you’ve been practicing your reactions beforehand.
If you’re reading this post, you probably feel uncomfortable in some way when you receive compliments.
Many people have this problem. Many people also deal with this uncomfortable feeling the wrong way — by deflecting or downplaying the compliment.
This can be due to low self-esteem or just not wanting to sound boastful and vain.
“From my experience, I’ve noticed that people often struggle with compliments because of the underlying issue of self-worth or imposter syndrome. It’s important to understand that everyone, at some point in their career, feels like they don’t entirely belong. But remember, compliments are always given for a reason! They’re a reflection of your hard work, talent, or even just your ability to make someone’s day better. Accept them, learn from them, and let them be a source of motivation for further growth.”
Although the urge to deflect may be strong, do your best to resist it. Deflecting and downplaying someone’s compliment will make them feel unheard and unappreciated.
Dr. LeClair believes that deflecting the compliment can make you seem insecure:
“Even if you don’t feel like you deserve the compliment, avoid deflecting the kind words. This can make you seem insecure or ungrateful. Instead, accept the compliment and express your appreciation.”
If you genuinely want to share credit or explain your success in more detail, you can do so without diminishing the compliment you received. This way, you can maintain a balance between humility and professionalism.
Now that you know the basics behind how to professionally receive compliments, let’s see it in action.
We’ve prepared some examples of replies to workplace compliments. You will find a variety of replies, ranging from more formal ones to some casual types you can implement with your work friends. There are also examples of replies that are suitable to send to your boss or your clients.
Here are all of those, and some more.
Firstly, we have compiled a list of 10 best responses to a compliment that you can use in various situations at work. There are some short and simple ones, as well as longer, more detailed ones.
Here are the examples.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it.”
“Thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me.”
“I’m pleased to hear you say that. I’ve been working really hard. Thank you.”
“Thank you so much. Your positive feedback is very much appreciated.”
“I’m flattered by your words. Let’s keep up the good work together!”
“Thank you for the encouragement. Our efforts have really paid off.”
“Thank you so much. It was truly a team effort.”
“Your feedback means a lot to me. Thank you.”
“I’m truly humbled. It’s a pleasure to be a part of the team.”
“It’s so motivating to hear such nice words. Thank you.”
As we’ve discussed, humility is an important quality in the workplace. Therefore, you may want to have a few ideas on how to show your appreciation in a humble manner.
Here are some examples of humble responses to compliments.
“Thank you for your kind words. I had a great team supporting me.”
“Thank you. It was a collective effort. I couldn’t have done it without my team.”
“Thank you for your feedback. I’ve learned a lot from the guidance of my team.”
“I appreciate your kind words. I’m fortunate to have a great team behind me.”
“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to work with a team that supports me and values collaboration.”
“I’m constantly trying to improve and contribute to the team’s success, so thank you for acknowledging my work.”
In some work environments, you are expected to remain professional at all times. Although most of the examples we’ve prepared are suited for professional communication, here are a few examples if you want to take it up a notch on the professionalism scale.
“Thank you for your recognition. I’m committed to delivering high-quality work and continuing to contribute to our success.”
“I appreciate your words of encouragement. Our team’s hard work and dedication make achievements like this possible.”
“Thank you for your appreciation. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve received in this organization.”
“Your feedback is most appreciated. Let’s keep pushing for excellence.”
“It’s a privilege to be a part of a team that strives for excellence. Thank you.”
“I’m beyond grateful for your recognition. These results are a testament to the support I receive from my team.”
If you work in a very formal environment, you may need some ideas on how to formally respond to a compliment. Here are a few examples you can use.
“I sincerely appreciate your words. These achievements wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative effort of our team.”
“Your kind words are greatly appreciated. I’m committed to upholding this quality of work.”
“I appreciate your words of encouragement. Our shared vision of quality sets a strong foundation for my achievements.”
“Thank you for your appreciation. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by talented and diligent colleagues.”
“Your feedback is a source of motivation. I will continue to do my best. Thank you.”
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
Although many workplaces nowadays implement more casual ways of communicating, formal communication is still a valuable skill to have. To learn more about formal communication and how to master it, read our blog post:
On the contrary, if you work in a relaxed environment or you’re friends with your colleagues, you can probably ditch the formal tone of communication in favor of a more casual approach.
Here are a few ideas on how to respond to compliments in an informal tone.
“Thanks! I owe it all to you guys.”
“I’m glad you think so. We make a great team.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the shoutout.”
“Thanks a lot. Couldn’t have done it without our amazing team.”
“Thanks! It’s a joint effort, but I’m happy to be along for the ride.”
“Wow, thanks for the kind words. It means a lot.”
Here are a few examples of nice responses to compliments that will make the other person feel just as good as you do.
“It’s always nice to hear positive feedback. Thank you for sharing.”
“That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you.”
“Your compliment made my day. Thank you so much.”
“It’s wonderful to hear that my work is appreciated. Thank you.”
“Thank you so much for taking the time to acknowledge my work. It truly means a lot.”
“Thank you for brightening my day with your kind words. I appreciate it.”
If you receive a compliment from a fellow team member, you can use it as an opportunity to bond, as Dr. LeClair explains:
“If you’re receiving a compliment from a colleague, you can use the opportunity to build rapport and get to know them better. Ask them about their work or their interests and see where the conversation can go!”
Here are some examples of how to respond to compliments from coworkers.
“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to work with you. Let’s chat during lunch.”
“I appreciate your feedback. Let’s keep up the good work together.”
“Thanks! I really appreciate your opinion. Feel free to share it more often.”
“I’m honored by your recognition. Your support has been greatly appreciated.”
“Our teamwork truly makes the dream work. Let’s keep it up.”
“Thank you for the compliment. This achievement is a testament to the fantastic work we do together.”
“Thank you so much for your help during this project. I would love to talk more over a cup of coffee tomorrow.”
💡 Pumble Pro Tip
Complimenting your coworker is a great way to start a conversation and get to know each other. If you need more conversation starters, read our blog post:
If you get a compliment from your boss, it’s an opportunity to strengthen that relationship.
Here are some examples of how you can respond to compliments from your boss.
“Thank you, I appreciate the compliment. Your guidance has been invaluable.”
“Thank you. It’s a pleasure to work under your leadership.”
“I appreciate the feedback. Your mentorship has been invaluable during this time.”
“Thank you. Your feedback is appreciated, and it motivates me to keep improving.”
“It’s a privilege to be guided by someone as experienced as you. Thank you.”
“Thanks! It’s motivating to hear feedback from you.”
“Thank you. It’s great to have a boss who appreciates and guides their team so well.”
Compliments from clients have a special meaning and importance. Make sure to respond to them in a gracious and professional way and showcase your gratitude for their trust.
Here are some examples of how you can do just that.
“Thank you for your kind words. We value your business and appreciate the positive feedback.”
“I’m delighted to hear that you’re pleased with our service. Your satisfaction is our top priority.”
“Your words mean so much to us. We’re dedicated to providing the best possible service to our clients.”
“Thank you for your positive feedback. Your satisfaction is a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication.”
“Thank you. It’s been a pleasure to work with you, and we look forward to continuing to meet your needs.”
“Your compliments motivate us to keep improving. Thank you.”
“Thank you for sharing your positive experiences with us. It motivates us to keep delivering excellence to our customers.”
“Your satisfaction is our greatest reward. Thank you for your business.”
The significance of handling compliments professionally and expressing gratitude is often underestimated. In fact, research shows that people massively undervalue the importance of gratitude and underestimate how happy gratitude makes others feel.
Therefore, it’s a skill worth honing if you want to contribute to a positive work environment.
Our contributor, Dr. LeClair, perfectly sums the benefits of knowing how to professionally respond to compliments:
“There are several reasons why it is important to learn how to professionally accept a compliment.
First, it shows that you are confident.
Second, it creates a positive work environment and builds relationships with your colleagues and manager.
Third, it can help you advance your career. When your manager sees that you are able to recognize your strengths and be gracious, they may be more likely to give you more responsibility and opportunities.”
Additionally, a significant advantage of knowing how to professionally respond to compliments is the overall enhancement of your professional credibility and image.
When you gracefully accept compliments, you acknowledge your own strengths and demonstrate that you are confident in your abilities. This confidence is reassuring to your team members, superiors, and clients. It signifies your competence and expertise.
Moreover, your confidence will make others more likely to trust and rely on you, opening up new opportunities for growth in your career.
To sum up, your ability to confidently and gracefully accept compliments extends past the usual formalities of the workplace environment. It can serve as a tool for building credibility and advancing in your career.
It also contributes to a healthy work environment and strengthens relationships between your team members.
So, next time you receive a compliment, remember to:
- Embrace it with confidence,
- Stay humble and appreciative, and
- Use the chance to praise those who helped you along the way.
✉️ Do you get uncomfortable when you receive compliments from your colleagues? Or, do you love receiving them? What is, according to you, the best way to professionally respond to a compliment?
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