The Awkward Subject Change

How NOT to Accept Compliments

It has been said many times that we ladies struggle to accept compliments.

Amy Schumer of Comedy Central created this YouTube video highlighting this struggle, and it went viral earlier this year. (Warning! The video contains graphic language.)

This video is certainly funny because it’s so close to true. I myself have taken some time to learn how to take a compliment. But rather than giving instructions on how to accept compliments graciously, I’ve decided to put this article into a list of things NOT to do. Why? Because (and this might be a topic for another article) for some reason we women respond to being told what not to do.

But that’s a whole other can of worms. For now, let’s look at 5 ways you should NOT accept a compliment.

1. The Ignore Tactic

Your colleague tells you she loves your dress, that she thinks it looks flattering on you. What do you do? You pretend you didn’t hear her.

This leaves the complimenter understandably confused. Perhaps she wonders if you heard her. Perhaps she wonders if you’re pretending not to hear because you don’t like her. Then that gets her thinking about that time you went out for drinks with the cute guys from the legal department and didn’t invite her. And she concludes that your ignoring her compliment is further proof that you hate her guts. And you’ve ruined her day. Well done.

Don’t do it! Don’t ignore compliments and make nice colleagues think you hate them!

2. The Awkward Subject Change

The Awkward Subject ChangeYou’re at a party and someone compliments you on that awesome article you wrote for the local newspaper. Suddenly, you find yourself discussing the nuances of this week’s weather forecast.

Why?? You’ve just accomplished something great! Don’t change the subject and talk about something else. By changing the subject, you make the complimenter think that you’re embarrassed about your accomplishments, or worse, ashamed.

3. The Humble Brag

A guy says something nice about you so you feel you have to downplay yourself. But really, you know what he’s said is true.

For example, you’ve just been told you have beautiful hair. You know you have beautiful hair. In fact, you’re rather vain about it. So in order to draw more attention to it, you downplay it by saying, “Oh man, thanks, but jeez it never holds the style I want it to,” thus prompting further compliments on your gorgeously styled hair.

That’s just obnoxious. Don’t do that.

4. The Outright Denial

How NOT to Accept Compliment


She was asking for that one.

5. The Accusation of Lying

“You’re just saying that,” is probably one of the most common responses to a compliment. And sometimes, it’s true! You do have people who give insincere compliments to just about everyone.

But a lot of the time, they’re just trying to say something nice to you. To say, “You don’t mean that,” is downright rude and offensive. One should always assume people say what they mean and mean what they say (unless they’ve proved otherwise).

Do them the honor of believing that they really think you’ve got great taste in accessories (for instance).

On What Constitutes a Compliment

Now let’s be clear: Some dude calling at you in the street that you have “nice stems” is not a compliment. That’s creepy.

But a friend, lover, parent, colleague, boss or new acquaintance saying something nice about you, what you do or how you look should be taken at face value and accepted politely, graciously and with a smile.

And this: