the Me Ra Koh Blog

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Advice for Moms

5 Ways to Accept Compliments

Me Ra Koh

Some of you may not know I’m one of the lucky ones.  Twenty plus years ago, I was a patient in a psychiatric ward.  Yes, my husband is forever jealous of this bragging right. 🙂  I experienced an overwhelming amount of trauma in my life, and I needed help.  This dug into issues of self-worth and that opened up a can of worms requiring practical tools…like ways to accept compliments.  Many of you are going to see relatives this holiday season (and some of you may feel like you want to be locked in a psychiatric ward afterward).  LOL!  Compliments will be given.  Resistance may come up within from either not feeling worthy of the compliment or simply feeling awkward in the moment.  From wisdom found inside the walls of a psychiatric ward, I bring you 5 Ways to Accept Compliments.

Make Eye Contact

Even if you don’t feel the compliment is true or genuine, make eye contact with the person.  Otherwise, they may go on and on thinking that you didn’t hear them the first time.  A small smile with eye contact often ends the awkward moment.

ways to accept compliments, Me Ra Koh

Respond with Receiving Words

When I was in the psychiatric ward, we had to say “I receive” when accepting a compliment.  Not just the words “thank you”, but “I receive”.  The therapist explained there is a deeper transaction happening when you tell someone who you are receiving their kindness.  You can say “thank you”, but to this day I still love saying “I receive” instead.  I can’t tell you how many responses I’ve had from these two words.  So many women have done a double take and said “You do?  I’ve never heard a woman receive a compliment before!”  This unexpectedly makes their day which doubles my own joy!


This may seem pretty obvious, but if you’re a contemplater you may not be aware of the fact that you’re not smiling because you’re mulling over the compliment in your head.  A genuine smile, if nothing else, is a wonderful way to accept compliments.

Embrace Their Hand

I love this gesture when receiving a compliment.  When someone gives me a compliment, I love to make eye contact, smile, reach out for their hand, embrace it and tell them “I receive”.  My grandma always embraces my hand when I give her a compliment.  There is something so warm in that simple gesture.  I know this isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely my personality.  I want people to feel warmth exuding from me when they take the time to say something kind.  And this is my favorite way of doing it.

Tell Them How the Compliment Makes You Feel

Go a step beyond receiving the compliment and tell the person how their words make you feel.  Here are some examples;

When someone tells you that your outfit is beautiful…

“Thank you!  This is my first time wearing it and hearing that makes me feel so much better!”

When someone tells you that you look amazing since they last saw you…

“I receive that! It’s been a crazy year!”

When someone compliments your home’s holiday decor…

“I love to make the home festive.  Thank you for noticing, it makes all my efforts worth it.”

Refrain from saying “Oh, I just bought that on clearance at Target.”  Or “This dress? You know I found it on sale and thought I’d try it.”  Or “You are to sweet, but I know I look and feel exhausted.”  Do any of these responses sound familiar?  Use self-control to not express them.  On the flip side, here is a list of favorite compliments people have received from Real Simple magazine readers.

I’ll leave you with this final story.

A number of years ago, a woman gave me a compliment.  I responded with saying “I receive that.  Thank you.”  Her eyes filled with tears, and she said that most people deflect her compliments.  I waited for her to continue.  She said everyone has gifts to give others.  Her gift is words of affirmation.  But nine out of ten times, she feels like people don’t want her gift.  The lady gave me a big hug and thanked me for receiving her gift.

The moment was a huge a-ha for me.  By allowing myself to accept her compliment, I gave her space and freedom to be herself, give her best gift, and honor it.

It’s not always easy to accept compliments, but consider one of these five responses.  It may give back to the giver more than you realize.



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  1. Becky says:

    Thank you Me Ra, I love this. I always try to receive appreciatively, but it never dawned on me to actually say the words. Such great advice and I plan to follow it!

  2. Deb Weaver says:

    What great advice! Receiving any gift (be it a smile, compliment, or physical gift) radiates honor to the giver. So powerful. Thank you.

  3. This just made me cry. So good! Sigh….I love your honesty and how truly valuable this is!