Almost all employees crave feedback. But when the accolades start rolling in, many get embarrassed, sink into their seat, look away or even try to negate or reject the compliment.
But it’s important not to do that. How employees receive and acknowledge praise and positive feedback can impact work relationships and career growth.
“Giving and receiving feedback is one of the most essential skills for creating trust and meaningful relationships at work, but it’s one of the hardest things we as human beings have to tackle,” said Rebecca Aced-Molina, a certified coach and leadership coach.
How to react
The key to accepting praise at work is to show you received it and appreciate it.
A simple response of “thank you very much, I appreciate you saying that” or “thank you, I worked very hard on it” can suffice. If there were other people who were instrumental in the success, you should mention their assistance as well.
And don’t forget about your body language when receiving the compliment. Be sure to sit up straight and make eye contact.
Of course, for some people, this is easier said than done.
“A lot of times we simply have been mistaught what modesty or humility really is, and it doesn’t have anything to do with receiving positive feedback or a compliment,” said Denise Dudley, a behavioral psychologist. “Rejecting a compliment it’s not humility.”
When you are on the receiving end of someone praising your work, it’s expected and beneficial to recognize it.
“It’s not good form to reject something someone gave us, it’s better to say thank you and receive it graciously,” said Dudley.
When it’s a public acknowledgment
If your boss gives your hard work a shout-out in a meeting, it’s still important to say thank you.
It’s always a good idea to give credit to coworkers who helped you meet the goal or make a project a success, but keep it quick and simple and don’t overtake the meeting.
Try saying something like: “Thank you very much, I know my team and I worked very hard on the project,” suggested Dudley.
Embrace the praise
Many people aren’t comfortable accepting feedback, and will brush off praise by saying something like, “oh, it wasn’t anything special.”
When you reject or downplay a compliment on something you worked hard on, you are setting the tone of how someone might view your work.
“They might believe what you say if you tell them it wasn’t a big deal, and cease to give you so much credit, which you deserve if you did the work,” said Beverly Jones, author of “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO.”
When you don’t take the recognition of your efforts it could also impact career growth, including promotions and pay raises. “When you don’t acknowledge the positive feedback you have been given, it will contribute unconsciously to the narrative that you aren’t as capable as you might really be,” said Aced-Molina.
It’s also important not to interrupt or change the topic – even if you are a little uncomfortable.
“Women are far less good than men are at receiving compliments,” said Dudley. “We tend to deflect or interrupt a lot quicker.”
When you have received a compliment graciously, it shows you are comfortable and confident with who you are, she added. “Receiving compliments well is a characteristic of a good leader.”
Managers: Pay attention
Feedback, both negative and positive, should be a frequent occurrence in the workplace. It can give employee’s clarity, increase productivity and morale and help to avoid any tension or confusion.
Managers should also note how employees react to and prefer to receive feedback. Some employees enjoy getting accolades in a big group setting, while others want to hear in a more intimate one-on-one or small group setting.
“Some people really don’t want the spotlight turned on them, even if it’s for good reasons,” said Dudley.