Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Articles → How to take a compliment

You would think this would be a basic life skill, but it seems almost nobody knows it, so please spread the word.

When someone gives you a compliment, what should you do?

Do you say, “What? No! Not at all. That’s ridiculous.” Do you give details of why you disagree?

That’s what most people do. They refuse it. They deny it.

But think of how inconsiderate that is.

It takes courage to give you a compliment. It’s a little vulnerable for someone to admit they like something about you, and then to go up to you and tell you so. So when they do, is that nice of you to argue with them about it? How do you think that makes them feel in that moment?

So, when someone gives you a compliment, what should you do?

Just say, “Thank you.”

Nothing more.

It feels strange, but it’s the right thing to do.

It doesn’t mean you agree. You’re just thanking them for their vulnerable courage in that moment, for taking the trouble to tell you something nice.

Then sincerely return their interest. Ask their name, or something more about them.

This advice came from Livingston Taylor, and was originally aimed at musicians, since they often get compliments after a gig, and always actively disagree with these compliments. But everyone can use this simple life skill.

Dandelion photo by Bert Heymans.