Have you ever received a lot of praise and felt awkward because you didn’t know how to respond? That happened to me recently. It was my first time being an MC, and near the end, I got strong public praise from some colleagues. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing, and it was kind of awkward.
Afterwards, I decided I should figure out a good way to respond to praise. Some people might view this as a small matter, but I view it as a big deal. If we don’t know how to face praise, not only is it awkward, but we might grow arrogance. There is a Chinese proverb that says,
“The arrogant attract harm. The humble receive benefit.”
Human beings all detest arrogant people and like to help humble people. If I start to think that I am better than I actually am, then my arrogance will grow. I might try to do things above my ability. When I do a bad job, people will lose trust in me, and I will have a poor reputation. Once my reputation is ruined, it will be very hard to rebuild. Hence, I need to find a way to respond to praise while maintaining politeness and humility.
Option 1: Brush it off
I could say, “Oh thanks, but I’m not actually that good. So and so is way better.”
I see a lot of people respond this way to compliments, but to me, it sounds like I am negating the other person’s positive intentions, which might make them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Option 2: Accept the compliment
I could say, “Thank you for your compliment.”
This is polite and affirms their positive intentions. It is better than option 1, but the problem is, am I actually deserving of such praise? Probably not. Hence, I shouldn’t fully accept the compliment.
Option 3: View the compliment as encouragement and thank the encouragement.
I could say, “Thank you for your encouragement. I will keep working hard to improve my abilities.”
This sounds and feels much better than the previous two options. They praised me very highly, so I view it as encouragement for me to reach that level, but I am not actually at that level yet. I also affirm their positive intentions towards me.
I shared this idea with my mother, and she said I am still arrogant. I replied, “Why do you say that? I’m obviously trying to be humble and polite here. What’s arrogant about my words?”
She replied, “If you are truly humble deep down in your heart, then you would obviously give the credit away to your teacher. You weren’t born a great MC. You learned from watching your teacher and listening to his advice.”
Her words really hit the nail on the head. I tried to accept her criticism gracefully and said,
“Thank you for pointing out my mistake. Next time, I will avoid this mistake by giving credit away to my teacher.”
Option 4: Thank the encouragement and give credit away
I could say, “Thank you for your encouragement. I learned from observing my teacher and colleagues. I will keep working hard to improve my abilities.”
This response is polite, affirms their positive intentions, and prevents arrogance. If I gave a compliment to someone, and they responded in this way, I would feel respect towards that person. I think we have a winner!
When was the last time you received a big compliment? How would you respond to it now?