Compliments are hard.
It doesn’t matter if you are the one giving the compliment or receiving it, they are difficult.
They are not difficult for the reasons you might think, however.
Saying “thank you” or showing appreciation is common in American culture. There are so many different ways to say and show that you genuinely appreciate someone. Feeling gratitude or appreciation is the easy part, the hard part is how these feelings are executed or shown.
Now the tough part.
Giving compliments is difficult for one reason, execution.
There are so many different ways to show someone how much you appreciate them. You could simply tell them “thank you for ____”, give them a card, send them flowers, buy them coffee; the list is endless.
For this reason alone, showing you appreciate someone can be quite the difficult decision process.
Now the wording.
Choosing the proper words to show your appreciation can be difficult too.
Generally, a simple “thank you” does not suffice. Although still appreciated, we can do much better than that.
Pick out the details of what exactly you are thankful for. Instead of just saying “thank you” add in some details.
For example, your coworker might have constructed your meeting packets for you with exceptional organization. Instead of just saying “thank you” you could say “thank you for putting together those meeting packets for me, I really liked how well you organized everything. It really made the flow of my meeting go much more smoothly”.
If this still doesn’t appear up to snuff for you, give them a hand-written thank you card or maybe take them out to coffee. How you choose to show your appreciation is up to you. Above all, make sure if you give a compliment, it is sincere.
Being on the receiving end of compliments can be equally stressful. They can sometimes be (what we think to be) unwarranted, or just plain awkward sometimes.
The important thing to remember is to be gracious.
If a compliment is given, the one giving it must have thought it was deserved.
Accept the compliment, never downplay or negate it. Downplaying a compliment can make you appear insecure while simultaneously making the other person feel uncomfortable.
In most of these cases a simple “thank you” will suffice as a response or if appropriate, give a compliment in return.
This is an area of difficulty for me, I am awful at receiving compliments. As a young professional newly entering the workforce, I never think my work merits a compliment. So don’t worry, you aren’t alone. It has been a personal mission of mine to become better at receiving compliments since they are such a common occurrence in the workplace.
So take a breath, smile, and remember that compliments aren’t so scary after all.