How To Give & Receive Compliments at Work

Giving and receiving compliments plays a critical role in building and maintaining relationships at work. Positive feedback is also a great way to give compliments.

A compliment is one of the most powerful ways to let a team member know that you value and appreciate them. Sometimes a positive interaction like this can be surprisingly tricky to navigate for both giver and receiver. Studies have shown that nearly 70% of people associate embarrassment or discomfort with the process of giving and receiving recognition.

Givers express worries of being seen as fake, having their compliment misinterpreted or triggering jealousy in others. On the receiving end, feelings of being undeserving, questioning intentions, worry about similar outcomes in the future exist are highlighted.

How To Receive A Compliment

In order to get better at giving compliments, we must first get better at receiving them. Most people don’t realise that when someone compliments you, they are actually sharing how what you did impacted them positively. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with them, just relate to it as a gift and accept it. The best way is to simply say “Thank you”. If you find yourself diverting the person’s compliment by passing the credit, making a joke, or awkwardly looking at them, recover the situation by saying “I’m working on getting better at accepting a compliment. Thank you.”

Our favourite responses to compliments are:

“Thank you, you made my day!”…………………   “I really did put a lot of thought into this, thank you for noticing.”

If someone compliments  your team effort, share the appreciation:

“Thank you. It’s great to know. Actually, Rachel also worked with me on this one, I’ll be sure to share your feedback with her.”

“Thank you for noticing. Everyone on our team worked really hard on this. I will share your feedback; the team will be so happy.”

Start noticing how you and others around you react to compliments over the coming week; after a few weeks, you may find it easier to say thank you.

How To Give A Powerful Compliment

Knowing how to compliment and recognise others is a leadership skill that is mastered by few. The most memorable and impactful compliments are authentic and specific. A common mistake leaders make is complimenting first before giving difficult feedback. Do NOT do this. It removes the authenticity of any future feedback you may give. If your intention is not genuine, neither is your compliment.


The next time you feel compelled to give a compliment, pause and answer the below questions:
  • Why am I recognising this person?
  • Specific: What did I experience or observe?
  • Process: What did it take for them to do what they did?
  • Impact: How did their work impact me or the team?


Over time, answering these questions will become second nature as you master the art of giving and receiving powerful compliments. Practice makes perfect.

Readers also enjoyed The Ultimate New Employee Checklist

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Looking for tools to help with leadership?

We have lots of resources and tool to make you a better manager. Click below to see more.