I value aesthetics and a focus on the details. I invest time to make my work dynamic in content and professional in appearance. I am the type of person who struggles to eat at a restaurant if the menu font (type or size) is different from line to line or no one bothered to line up the pricing to the same margins. To me, attention to formatting and brand shows a care for one’s product, a pride in one’s work, and a willingness to put one’s best foot forward.

In my current role, I am responsible for the programming and product vision and execution. Within the next six months, my goal is to have branded material and basic presentation decks for our facilitators created and accessible. I wish it were already done. I wish I had everything organized and perfect for our team. But I don’t; it is a work in progress.

Recently, I facilitated a VBL 101 session with Carla Ruiz, another InnerWill facilitator. When Carla and I sat down to prepare for the session, I pulled up the deck I have been developing. Carla spent some time looking through it and exclaimed, “Wow – Danielle, this is really great and looks beautiful!”

My response? “Ugggg… It’s not the way I want it; it’s not perfect yet.”

Our coworker, Sharon, who was sitting nearby in our collaborative work space, interrupted with, “Danielle. Just say Thank You.”

And she was right – why in the world didn’t I just say thank you? Carla gave me a compliment on something that really matters to me. On something I have spent countless hours and boundless energy creating. Why did I dismiss that compliment with the obligatory, “I would only deserve the compliment if…” rebuttal?

Below are three things to stop doing and three things to start doing in order to accept compliments with a gracious “Thank You!”

STOP Putting Yourself Down
Our self-talk constantly convinces us we are not good enough. And self-talk has a way of creating its own reality. If every time someone gives us a compliment, we tell them why we don’t deserve it, they will start to believe it. And even worse… you might be so convincing that you start to believe it too.

STOP Assuming They Don’t Mean It
Except for Regina from Mean Girls, most people give authentic compliments. So take it –  assume positive intent and soak up the moment.   

STOP Dismissing It
If someone is complimenting you, they think your work or behavior is worth the compliment. By you dismissing it – “it wasn’t a big deal,” “it could have been better,” “I didn’t really do anything” – you are essentially telling them they picked the wrong thing to compliment or it isn’t worthy of a compliment because your standards are higher than theirs.

START Understanding What You Care About
You get the most out of compliments that align with what you value. I have a high value for the aesthetics of my work. When someone compliments that aspect, I should feel the extra adrenaline. Not sure what you value? Use our Igniter Exercise to figure it out.

START Owning Your Work
You work hard. And yes, we all have opportunities to improve. But, you are doing awesome work and your time and energy is paying off. There are opportunities to hold your chest up and say, “Thanks! I worked really hard on ____ and it is awesome you appreciate it!” When faced with that opportunity… proudly accept it.

START Appreciating Them
A compliment is a gift. And at that, it is a gift that takes vulnerability and reflection. If someone gave you a tangible gift, you would say thank you. So do the same with a compliment. Say thank you, smile, and let them know how much you appreciate their recognition.


We know positive feedback is good for our soul; it motivates and affirms we are moving in the right direction.  How will you respond to a compliment today?



Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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