An article in Fast Company provides an excellent reminder to those of us who feel awkward when someone offers us a compliment: Simply saying “Thank you” is often the most gracious and most appropriate response.

In her discussion of The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want by Amanda Owen,  Fast Company writer Laura Vanderkam reflects on the ways in which many people inadvertently mismanage compliments. They may negate them (saying, for example, “This old tie?” or “It was nothing”), use them as an opportunity to talk at length about marginally related matters (“Well, my mother started me off on paisley ties. She had a thing for paisley. She also baked an excellent cream pie”), or even take them too seriously and allow them to influence their behaviour.

Vanderkam points out that you don’t need to agree with the compliment to receive it well – i.e., with a brief expression of gratitude. “You do not have to feel great about yourself in order to thank the person for introducing some positive vibes into the universe,” she says. “Nor do you have to change any boundaries, or change any decisions you have made about what to do because of this moment of positivity.”

Compliments are positive experiences and most of us enjoy receiving them. Owen and Vanderkam suggest that by responding simply and graciously, we increase the likelihood that we will receive them more frequently in future.

I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter. You can contact me either through the comments section below, or directly via email. If your feedback includes a compliment, I promise to say “Thank you.”