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I remember meeting a friend once for a happy hour at a trendy bar in Manhattan. We talked about different ways to meet new people and start talking to them in a setting like the one we were in.

What can you say to a complete stranger? Well, my take on it is, pretty much anything. The important thing is to actually approach someone. It can be as simple as saying, “Hi, my name is…”. You can ask a question like, “What drink would you recommend here?” You can ask a favor, like, “Do you mind if I take this chair?” [If he’s using the chair for his coat or briefcase.] You can make a comment like, “I love the pattern in your tie.”

But…what I’m about to share isn’t so much about how to approach someone as about how NOT to respond when someone gives you a compliment.

Here’s what happened…

A group of 30-something women were standing by the bar right next to us. One woman wore a unique statement necklace that I noticed right away. As they were leaving and walked by us, I said, “Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you that you have an amazing necklace. It looks really unique and fits you so well.”

Her response was, “Oh, this necklace is nothing special. I actually bought it on sale a long time ago and don’t really wear it much. But anyway, thanks.”

What?! She actually dissed a compliment, downplayed herself and her appearance..

Because I am a professional coach, I instantly pick up on traits of self-deprecation, low self-esteem, lack of confidence. It seemed like this woman might have those issues. Men pick up on these seemingly insignificant things too, just on a subconscious level. =

But not accepting a compliment repeatedly may turn into a destructive pattern.

For instance, in a relationship, no matter what a man compliments a woman on, if she consistently puts him down, he will lose confidence in his ability to make her happy. So, it’s very important to react to a guy’s compliments with grace and appreciation!

A simple “Thank you” would be a great response to start with.

A more elaborate reply may start a conversation that could lead to a new friendship, a date, or even a new relationship.

And, if you really want to keep a guy on his toes, playfully say, “I know!” with a smile, then pause to see his reaction. If he’s a strong, secure alpha male, he’ll be pleasantly surprised, compliment you on your attitude, and you can take it from there.

So enjoy receiving compliments that come your way, especially from a nice guy!