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Accepting Compliments

If someone pays you a compliment, do not protest or deny the truth of the statement (as is required in many other cultures). Accept the compliment graciously and with thanks. In conversation, give yourself time to prepare your response to the compliment, since often these remarks may come as surprises. If you feel awkward, smile and collect yourself before responding. You are not obligated to return the compliment as soon as you receive it. If you do wish to say something nice to the person making the compliment, compose your words carefully and wait for the right moment, so as not to appear too artificial.

Keep in mind that when someone pays you a compliment, he or she may actually feel rather awkward, perhaps even timid, about doing so. Your task is to make the complement a success by giving the warm thanks the other person was hoping for, but not truly expecting.

Some Americans are shy about interacting with others and may respond to a compliment, for an achievement for example, by saying something like “oh, it was nothing.” Make sure not to imitate this behavior. If you give an American a compliment and get this kind of response, feel free to hold your ground and insist to the other that he or she really deserves the praise.

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