Digital workplace etiquette: Accepting compliments

Blog | workplace happiness

  • Joost post
  • workplace happiness

In our ongoing exploration of fostering healthy work environments, Joost Drieman, a senior certified coach and business advisor, brings to light the often-overlooked art of accepting compliments. Building upon our previous discussion on giving praise, Joost reveals how gracefully receiving compliments can transform workplace dynamics, especially in the digital sphere. 

Accepting compliments – not as easy as it sounds

As explored in our previous blogpost on giving compliments, receiving praise is a powerful affirmation of one's actions, appearance, or contributions. However, despite the positive intentions behind compliments, many individuals struggle to accept them graciously. Joost Drieman, our senior certified coach and business advisor with over 35 years of experience, sheds light on the transformative power of accepting compliments and how it enhances virtual collaboration. 

Reactions to compliments: Rejection and Evasion, deflection

When it comes to accepting compliments, reactions often vary, ranging from outright rejection or evasion to deflection. Some individuals struggle with feelings of vulnerability or discomfort when praised, leading them to dismiss or downplay compliments. Whether it's deflecting with self-deprecating humor or simply changing the subject, these responses can unintentionally discourage others from offering praise in the future.

For some, accepting compliments triggers feelings of vulnerability or discomfort, leading to outright rejection or evasion. Rather than simply saying "thank you," they might respond with self-deprecating remarks or diminish the significance of the compliment.

  • Rejection involves dismissing the compliment entirely, often appearing detached or sarcastic.

  • Evasion, on the other hand, involves downplaying or changing the subject to avoid acknowledging the praise. Both responses can inadvertently discourage others from offering compliments in the future.

  • Another common response to compliments is deflection, where individuals trivialize or minimize the praise. This behavior often stems from feelings of unworthiness or a desire to appear modest.

Challenges in the digital setting

The digital landscape presents its own set of challenges when it comes to accepting compliments. With limited face-to-face interactions, individuals may find it challenging to gauge the sincerity or tone of compliments received online. The absence of physical cues further complicates matters, making it harder to convey genuine appreciation or acceptance of praise. In virtual collaboration settings, where interactions often occur through email, chat, or video conferencing platforms, there's a risk of downplaying compliments or responding hastily without fully acknowledging their significance.

To navigate these challenges, cultivating a digital workplace etiquette that prioritizes effective communication and recognition is essential. By adopting strategies to enhance virtual collaboration and communication, individuals can create a supportive environment where compliments are valued and accepted with grace.

Making Acceptance Easier

Accepting compliments graciously requires a shift in mindset and behavior. Here are some tips to make the process smoother:

  1. Cultivate Self-Worth: Recognize your own value and contributions, and don't undermine yourself with negative self-talk.

  2. Practice Gratitude: Simply say "thank you" and smile when receiving a compliment. Expressing gratitude acknowledges the kindness of the giver and fosters a positive interaction.

  3. Avoid Deflection: Resist the urge to downplay or deflect compliments. Instead, accept them with humility and appreciation.

  4. Foster a Culture of Appreciation: Encourage a workplace environment where compliments are valued and freely given. Lead by example by offering sincere compliments to your colleagues.

  5. Reflect on Feedback: Take compliments as opportunities for self-reflection and growth. Consider the positive aspects highlighted by the compliment and use them to bolster your confidence. 


In today's digital age, where face-to-face interactions are limited, accepting compliments becomes even more crucial for fostering connection and collaboration among remote teams. Let's make a conscious effort to accept compliments graciously, both online and offline, and reap the benefits of a more confident and appreciative workplace environment.

Annika Willers

Manager Internal Communication

Annika Willers

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