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Pleased, honored, humbled

Whether you are at the Oscars or seated at a small dinner, accepting an award or simply accepting a compliment, graciously acceptance on the recipient’s end is important.

As amazing as it feels to be recognized, many of us are unsure how to behave during our moment in the spotlight. We often believe that the polite response to a public congratulatory statement, or even a private compliment, is denial, or at a minimum, downplaying our success. That response downplays your role and insults the person who paid you the compliment in the first place. When you deny, deflect or self-insult, others may misinterpret your actions and think of you as ungrateful or insecure.

Gratitude is the only acceptable way to acknowledge someone’s kind remarks. Sincere thankfulness won’t give off the appearance of pride or vanity. Instead, it shows you acknowledge a person’s recognition and appreciation.

Here are some tips for receiving an honor with deserving grace and humility.

Show Gratitude: Remember to address the people who gave you the recognition in the first place.  Show that you feel honored to be the recipient. The proper response to any compliment is a simple “thank you”. Rather than a verbal rebuke (“It was really nothing…” or, “No, it was nothing, stop!”), respond with sincere gratitude for the kind words of praise. Don’t deny the compliment, argue its legitimacy, or insult the other person by implying you don’t deserve the credit. Just as it would be bad etiquette to refuse a handshake, it’s also impolite to dismiss the other person’s observation.

Don’t try to one-up a compliment. Avoid the temptation to “out-compliment” someone. Simply embrace the moment and show your gratitude.

Act Humble: If receiving an award, celebrate with friends and family after the ceremony, not at the podium.  You should never act as if you were the obvious choice for the award. The most humble winners seem like they never expected to win.

Share the spotlight: It’s never appropriate to hog all the credit. If you led a team effort, by all means, accept the accolade and don’t downplay your role. But if it was truly a group effort, be sure to also acknowledge the contributions of your team. If you were recognized with, or competed against, other people, thank those involved.  Even if you’re not fond of them, paying respect to your competitors is a sign of maturity.

Look Happy: Body language is a powerful communication tool. If your body language doesn’t match your words, you may send the wrong message. Crossed arms or casual posture may be misinterpreted as disinterest. Show the recognizer that you are glad to be receiving the accolade.  Show a genuine smile and don’t shy away from making direct eye contact with the person speaking, giving them an authentic word of thanks.

Receive toasts with grace. If someone pays you a compliment in the form of applause or a toast, don’t clap with the crowd or drink from your glass. It’s the equivalent of patting your own back or singing “Happy Birthday” at your own party. The best course of action is to nod your head in acknowledgement and smile.

Lasting Appreciation: Remember to continue to act humble and gratified even when someone asks about the award on display in your home years later.  Etiquette is essential.  Graciousness shows maturity, and people will have a favorable opinion of you.  Now go get that award, compliment, or whatever other recognition you deserve!


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