Some people say thank you....Just ask the late, lamented cast of Will and Grace:
It seems that we as a species have trouble accepting compliments. I've been asked about this informally before, and I just received an email from a new reader about it. So, it seemed a ripe time to address it generally.
I've riffed plenty on the insulting comments before: "Jane, you look so nice I almost didn't recognize you!" or "Bob, what a cute little diamond you gave your fiancee". Those are complicated; you don't want to make a scene (Graces abhor scenes) but neither do you want to take abuse. However, that is a topic for another day.
Straightforward compliments should be received exactly as they are given--in a straightforward way. A simple thank you is all that is required. If you wish, you can add "it was nice of you to notice" or "how kind of you to say so."
What you must never, never, do is dispute the remark. Not only do you look foolish and inappropriately self-disparaging by denying the value of your new haircut/effective sales pitch/delicious dinner, but you may appear disagreeable and argumentative. If someone tells you that your sweater is lovely, don't say, "this old thing? it's a rag!" By doing so, you essentially insult the admirer by implying that their taste and judgment are lacking.
Many of us are hardwired toward self-effacement. This can be sweet, endearing, and downright hilarious. But like everything, Graces, there's a time and a place. Great to invoke when a friend is feeling embarrassed about a mishap at work--DO share the fact that you attended a business event with your pants ripped and your undies fully exposed like I did last week. It will both make her laugh and make her feel better about her snafu. Not great when your friend is attempting a diet and you carp on about how fat you are--particularly as she outweighs you by a good 20 lbs.
So next time your supervisor commends you for a job well done, thank her. Two little words that will never fail you.