You’re sitting there in the coffee shop, sipping your latte, sunshine streaming through the window and someone catches your eye.

“That’s a beautiful dress you are wearing!

You freeze for a split second, smile awkwardly and stumble over a response that goes something like this:

Um, wow OK, this dress is really old but thanks.

The friendly stranger who gave you the compliment looks a bit embarrassed and walks off.

You just managed to deflect a small gem of positive energy directed toward you and you feel vaguely empty.

Perhaps you have been in a situation when you have been the person giving the compliment?

The situation goes something like this:

You meet up with a girlfriend for dinner after work and you notice her skin is glowing – perhaps from the wintry cold outside – perhaps that’s just her style! You compliment her by saying something like:

Your skin looks amazing, you are glowing!

She screws her nose up and looks at you like you smell bad.

Oh please! Don’t be ridiculous! Look at all the tiny wrinkles around my eyes,” she says. You both laugh uncomfortably and the moment becomes  an Awkward Moment.

Here’s the thing: when somebody gives you a compliment, it’s very easy to accept it with ease and grace and I’m going to explain how.

There is plenty to read out there about why we find it difficult to accept praise, especially if we are in the habit of people-pleasing, but when it comes to tiny actions that make a difference, there is a simple, easy phrase followed by one action to practice for when someone gives you a compliment:

First, you smile, then you say, “Thank you.”

Try it out now.

It might be fun to practice giving a compliment too. A lot of the time when we are not very good at accepting compliments, we aren’t very good at giving them either.

Start small, like in the coffee shop mentioned above.

Compliment the barista, for example: “That was a delicious cup of coffee you made me!

Compliment the waitress: “Your service was excellent today.”

Start to think of it as giving away small signals of good intention wherever you go and notice if there is any difference in how you feel.

Now, for the advanced bit.

When someone next gives you a compliment, (remember, it could be a compliment about the effort you made at work on a project, the dedication you put in pulling together your friend’s baby shower, or the fact that you hair looks magnificent today,) practice saying Thank you and then you could also add something like this:

I really appreciate that” or “that’s a really great compliment, I appreciate it!

Your smile makes me smile.