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20-40-60 Etiquette: What should I say to a compliment?
QUESTION: Why is it so hard to accept compliments? Anytime someone says something nice about me, I find myself protesting what they are saying and then saying something bad about myself. Is there a polite way to answer a compliment?
CALLIE'S ANSWER: A simple thank you is always a good response!
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Yes, it's hard to accept compliments sometimes, but when you offer them to someone else sincerely, do you expect that person to protest the compliment? Probably not. More than likely, you just wanted them to hear something positive about themselves. It's OK to smile and say thanks and then enjoy the rest of the conversation. It's not easy to accept compliments gracefully — sometimes I protest, too, or let the person in on the secret behind the nice thing — but compliments are nice to hear and fun to hand out.
HELEN'S ANSWER: Everyone loves a good compliment! Sincerely thank the complimenter and then be quiet. You don't need to explain why you have on new earrings or why your new perfume smells good. A compliment is a statement and not a question that you must answer.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, The Oklahoman Night News Director and University of Central Oklahoma Media Ethics Chair: Repeat after me. “Thank you.” That's it. Oh yes, and smile.
I, too, find it difficult to accept compliments without embellishing my answer and saying where I got the dress, or the haircut or the shoes. None of that is necessary unless the one giving the compliment asks for additional information. Nor is it necessary to compliment the complimenter in return. That usually feels fake, anyway, doesn't it?
So remember, the answer to a compliment is just two little words and a smile. Thank you.
Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. You'll also find a guest answer. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.