Your 9-Step Guide to Taking Compliments About Your Work

Your 9-Step Guide to Taking Compliments About Your Work

It’s a funny thing, working for a living… some people get up in the morning, go to a job they couldn’t really care about even if everything were perfect, take their paychecks and wander off.  Others roll out of bed, disheveled and coming undone because they were up late chipping away at a project they’ve become particularly passionate about. There are other kinds, too, but this isn’t really about them.  It’s about you.

Since you’re reading this blog like a chump, I can only assume you’re more of the second type than the first.  You think about your customers or clients pretty much all the time, and you get so interested and invested in their projects that it’s hard to put them down.

We can smell our own.

The problem with people like you and me really comes when it’s time to talk to said client about the project.  They may exclaim things like, “OH EM GEE, this is amazing!” or “That’s the best idea anyone has ever had.” We all know it’s hyperbole, or at least some of it is because they’re caught up in the excitement of unwrapping the bundle that is a new project’s first or final iteration (the inbetweeners don’t seem to be quite as exciting).  

Nonetheless, they exclaim and lay on the praise.

And we become very, very uncomfortable.

Taking Compliments Step by Step

Quick!  Before your client sees the fear in your eyes, throw on your darkest shades.  You need to buy some time so we can chat. Right now, this is the moment that makes or breaks that relationship.  Or at least will make your interactions with your client really awkward for a while.

What do you say?  OH NO!

If you’re as awkward as I can be in real life, it’s time to take those compliments step by step.

Step 1:  Lift your cool shades slowly, take a deep breath and say, “Thank you.”  Or, “I’m really glad you liked that.”

Step 2: Look over at your (real or imagined) coworkers and give a big nod.

Step 3:  Take off those cool shades and start your strut out of the (real or virtual) room.

Step 4:  Immediately fall over your own shoes.

Step 5:  Break cool shades.

Step 6: Skin knees and bruise elbows.

Step 7:  Cry a little bit.  Try to hide the tears behind your broken shades.

Step 8:  Resolve to never do anything worth doing ever again.

Step 9: Cry yourself to sleep.

What?  You thought I was going to suggest the same things that have been rehashed over and over and over (although that last one has some original ideas, at least)?  Don’t be a social pariah. Say “thank you” when someone says something nice to you.  I mean, nice in a non-creepy way.

If someone is “complimenting” you in a way that’s not very complimentary, though, you don’t have to take that.  This is why you learn to box. I am not advocating violence. I’m just saying it helps to relieve stress. A few well-timed throat-punches are so incredibly good for your mental well-being.

Moving on.

I Had This Client…

I actually still have this client and she’s a keeper, despite the story I’m about to tell you.

I started working for this particular lady maybe five years ago, and I immediately believed she was going to fire me at any moment.  I knew I was screwing up, but I didn’t know how to stop because she would take my work and say nothing else. Since we had only ever connected via email, all I could imagine was that she was trying to find a writer to replace me before firing me.

Then one day I got a message from her.  A really, really nice message. She was saying how much she liked what I was doing, how great it all was. It wasn’t gushing, but in comparison to our previous communications, I needed a hanky.

I mentioned this to her not all that long ago and she told me a secret.  Well, not a secret secret, but that setup sounds better than others I could have chosen.  She told me that she has “the email equivalent of resting bitch face.” I was having my tea at the time, so that seemed like the right moment to introduce my monitors to Earl Grey.

I told her that I thought she hated me for like three years.  But she kept paying, so I kept writing. I mean, there was no topping email RBF.  It turns out that neither of us is really great at humaning on an emotional level, so now we just awkwardly trade information and occasionally try to say something nice.

We understand one another now.  After five years.

My point, I think, is that had we been better at giving and taking compliments, as well as just dealing with emotions from the start, our relationship may have bloomed far sooner into the awkward peony it is now.  

Bottom line: it’s definitely in your interest to practice taking a compliment.

Just imagine people are saying nice things to you.  Then say, “thank you.” Over and over until it sounds like you mean it.  It’s less tricky than you might think.

Exercise 1. I think you’re all pretty great.  Your new tie pins totally bring out the green in those ties.  Could not be better if you dipped them in gold.

How do you respond?


I know, they seem to be at the end of everything lately, just taunting you to do something or make a decision.  So weird.

At In The Cloud Copy, we may not be that great at taking compliments, but we sure get them a lot.  A few of the better ones have been saved for all of posterity on my profile page, from clients we’ve really loved working with.

I mean, I wouldn’t use the word “transformative,” but if a client did, I’d say “thank you” and then pass out right there.

If you want to see how quickly you can cause our copywriters to fall down like a bunch of fainting goats with just a few of the right words, let’s get together and make a plan for your content.  After all, without paying them a compliment, you may be waiting a while.

Email me to get started with your website copy revitalization, and I’ll even throw in a free content audit to help you better visualize a new strategy.  

Otherwise, you’re welcome to stay tuned for the next episode of “Great Blog Post or The GREATEST Blog Post,” Thursday, right here on Linkedin.