The dictionary has its own definition of the word compliment, but you and I know that it boils down to this: a statement that makes you want to disappear permanently under a cloak of fermented embarrassment and freeze-dried contempt. However, with practice, you can formulate responses that adequately convey how you feel when people make positive observations about you out loud.
Because it is impossible to anticipate a compliment, here are some common scenarios to set you on the right path:
SCENARIO 1: Scarf
Person: Wow, that scarf is beautiful!
You: Your mom is beautiful.
SCENARIO 2: Face
Person: Your face is smooth, clear, and dare I say flawless. What products do you use?
You: I appreciate your honesty and tact, but please take it elsewhere.
SCENARIO 3: Books
Person: Your taste in literature is exquisite! Would you like to discuss this sometime over expensive coffee?
You: The words that you’re saying are hurtful, so instead of insulting you, I will just slip away into the crowd, never to be seen or heard from again.
SCENARIO 4: Good Work
Person: You did an AMAZING job back there!
You: I cordially decline your assessment of what amazing is or is not.
SCENARIO 5: Nose
Person: Is that new perfume? It’s wonderful.
You: Please stop putting your nose out in the world unattended, thank you.
SCENARIO 6: Pants
Person: Are those designer jeans? You look so fancy—you could honestly wear those to a wedding.
You: Your jealousy is showing. I have to ask you to make yourself decent.
SCENARIO 7: Pet
Person: OMG that is the sweetest puppy I have ever seen.
You: Please do not speculate about how my dog will taste based on his appearance.
SCENARIO 8: Beverage
Person: This beverage that you concocted is completely delicious! May I have the recipe?
You: The fact that you call it a beverage tells me that you’re not ready.
SCENARIO 9: Present
Person: This is the most thoughtful gift I have received in my life! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
You: That’s interesting. I closed my eyes and typed a random search into Amazon and ordered the first thing that came up. I cannot overemphasize how little thought went into that.
SCENARIO 10: Brother
Person: Your brother is such a talented artist. You must be so proud!
You: Wow, thanks for making me feel like a sack of moldy potatoes.
SCENARIO 11: Employee
Person: You are the best employee that this company has ever hired. You are perfect in every way, we want to pay you tons more money, and we feel honored that you continue to set foot in a place that is so clearly beneath you.
You: At this point, I think we should just be friends.
SCENARIO 12: Body
Person: How often do you work out? You seem so fit!
You: How often do you walk out of my life? How about now?
SCENARIO 13: Donut
Person: Can you even believe that donuts can taste as good as these ones do?
You: Can you even believe that you failed to notice and comment on my painstakingly-sculpted winged eyeliner—dammit, is that really too much to ask?