Imagine that you’ve just finished a huge project at your job, and now it’s time to take a vacation. Your boss smiles and wishes you well on your holiday, then she says, “You deserve it!” But how can you respond when someone wishes you well, and how should you respond to “You deserve it?”
The best response to “I wish you well” and “You deserve it” is “Thank you.” You want to show the other person that you acknowledge and appreciate their positive comments, but you don’t want to turn the whole conversation onto yourself.
Of course, there are many different ways to say “Thank you” when someone wishes you well or pays you a compliment, and we’ll look at many different responses. Plus, we’ll explore ways to pivot the conversation so that you can easily keep the conversation going.
What Does It Mean When Someone Wishes You Well?
When someone says, “I wish you well,” they’re expressing good intentions for you and your endeavors. This means that they want you to succeed in the things that you’re doing.
“I wish you well” is a popular sentence to hear at graduations, weddings, and retirements, because these events mark the transition from one life stage into another.
For example, if someone tells you “I wish you well” at your university graduation, they’re saying, “I hope that the next chapter of your life will be successful.” With one sentence, they are expressing positive wishes for your future career and accomplishments.
How to Reply to “I Wish You Well”
The easiest and smoothest way to respond to “I wish you well” is to say “thank you.” When you thank your well-wisher, you show them that you accept and appreciate their positive message. If the other person is in a similar situation — for instance, if you’re both graduating at the same time — you can reply with “I wish you well, too.”
A popular mistake that many English language learners will make in reply to “I wish you well” is to say “Me too.” However, “Me too” is not an appropriate response to “I wish you well.” If you say “Me too” in response to “I wish you well,” it means that you also wish yourself well.
Even though it may seem like you’re returning the compliment to your friend, saying “Me too” actually turns the compliment back to yourself (source).
So, when you reply “Me too,” you’re giving the compliment to yourself, which probably isn’t your intention when you’re accepting and returning a positive expression like “I wish you well.”
What Does It Mean When Someone Says, “You Deserve It”?
The dictionary definition of the word deserve is “to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or acknowledgment” (source). This means that if someone compliments you with the phrase “You deserve it,” it means that you are worthy and earned what they gave to you.
Is “You Deserve It” a Compliment?
The basic definition of a compliment is an expression that shows admiration and praise (source). “You deserve it” is a compliment because it shows that the speaker believes that you’re worthy of their admiration.
Usually, someone will tell you, “You deserve it,” right after you’ve explained something good that has happened or that will happen to you soon. It’s a compliment, so the conversation will follow a certain rhythm and focus on only positive things (source).
Of course, sometimes your friend or colleague might mention something bad or negative that has happened to them. In this case, you should not say “You deserve it,” even if you think that this negativity is the direct consequence of their own actions. We only use “You deserve it” for positive things that happen to a person!
Take a look at this conversation to get a clear idea about how people use “You deserve it”:
Mary: Hi Luke, how’s it going?
Luke: Not bad, just finishing up my final task for the week. Do you have any plans for the weekend?
Mary: Actually, I’m taking all of next week off. I’ve just finished and submitted a huge project, and I need a break.
Luke: Yeah, you deserve it! You worked really hard on your project, and it was very successful.
Mary: Thanks, Luke. I hope it’ll be restful and fun.
Luke: I’m sure you’ll have a great time! Will you travel during your vacation?
Mary: I’ll go to my hometown to visit my family, and then I’ll spend a couple of days camping on my way back.
Luke: Wow, that’s a great plan. I wish you well on your travels!
Mary: Thank you! Have a great weekend.
Luke: See you when you get back!
In this example, you can see that Luke agrees that Mary should take a vacation because she’s been working very hard. He says, “You deserve it” to show that he supports her time off, and he says, “I wish you well” to express positive wishes for her vacation.
How to Reply to “You Deserve It”
From this example, you can see the correct way to respond to “You deserve it.” Generally, you should always respond with “Thank you,” or something similar such as “Thanks,” “I appreciate that,” or “That’s very kind.”
Let’s look back at the example with Mary and Luke to see how they did it.
Mary responds to both “You deserve it” and “I wish you well” by saying “thank you.” You can see how Mary accepted Luke’s compliment and well-wishes with “thanks” and “thank you,” and this kept the conversation moving.
You should also notice how Luke asked a follow-up question. He said, “You deserve it,” and then he asked a question about Mary’s upcoming vacation. When you give a compliment, you can use follow-up questions to help the conversation move forward.
So, the best reply to “You deserve it” is “Thank you.” And, if you plan to tell someone, “You deserve it,” you can use follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing.
How Do You Respond to a Compliment?
Compliments are a normal part of many conversations since it’s very common for friends, colleagues, and classmates to exchange positive remarks throughout their interactions. Giving and receiving compliments well is a skill that you can learn, practice, and develop as you interact with others in English (source).
When you receive a compliment, it’s important to respond positively and appropriately. But how can you keep the conversation smooth while also replying to the compliment? There are two main steps to responding to a compliment: you should say “Thank you” and then move the conversation forward.
Say “Thank You”
The best and most direct way to respond to any compliment is to say “Thank you.” However, you can also use another expression that shows your appreciation. Try out some of these phrases instead of simply saying “Thank you” when someone compliments you:
- I appreciate that (a lot).
- That means a lot to me.
- I value your high opinion of me/my work.
These expressions show that you acknowledge and accept the compliment that your friend has paid you, and they’re a bit more impressive than a mere “Thanks.”
If many people worked together to achieve whatever your friend is complimenting, you could also include others in the praise. For example, you can reply, “It was a team effort” or “I couldn’t have done it without help from my classmates.”
These sentences show that you value and appreciate the people who helped you succeed, so they’re worthy of the compliment as well.
Just like all the other skills you acquire in your lifetime, responding to a compliment may require some practice. When a person compliments you, instead of deflecting it or staying quiet, try saying, “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”
Don’t change the topic without acknowledging the compliment. It is often good to use the compliment to further conversation. For instance, you can make a quick comment like, “Thanks! I have been working very hard on this — it’s amazing what happens when you commit to a cause completely.”
That way, you’ve accepted the compliment and moved on to something that you can both talk about. You can also use a phrase like “With That Being Said” and then jump to the new topic of conversation.
To understand the meaning of the phrase, you can check out our article “With That Being Said: Meaning and Use of This Common Phrase.”
After receiving a compliment, you can reply in many different ways, but the most basic and popular response is “Thank you.” Before you continue the conversation, make sure that you say “Thank you” (or something similar) so that your friend knows that you acknowledge the compliment.
How Do You Give a Compliment?
Now that we’ve explored the proper ways to accept a compliment, such as “I wish you well” or “You deserve it,” let’s look at the key steps for giving or returning a compliment.
Find Common Ground
When you want to give a compliment, the first place to start is with what you and the other person have in common. Now, this doesn’t have to be a lifelong passion that you both share. Instead, you can find something superficial to comment on, such as their shoes or the book they’re reading.
You can find something that is easy to see or understand about them and compliment them on that. Be sure that your compliment is positive and not intrusive or offensive. The best advice for giving a compliment is, “If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t say it to a stranger.”
When you’re addressing someone — especially a stranger — with a compliment, it’s important to smile. Smiling shows the person that you’re genuinely interested in expressing something positive, and it makes them more receptive to your well-wishes and good intentions.
Keep It Simple
Finally, when it’s time to pay the compliment, make sure that you keep it short, simple, and direct. For example, if you wish to compliment someone on their shirt, don’t spend a lot of time explaining how or why you like their shirt. Instead, start with a simple, “Hey, I think your shirt is really cool!”
Then, if the other person wants to continue the conversation, they’ll likely ask a follow-up question. Or, they might just say “thanks” and fall silent. If that’s the case, you can end the conversation knowing that you made their day a bit brighter.
“Give a Compliment” or “Pay a Compliment”?
Now that we’ve looked at compliments in our daily speech, let’s look at the verbs we use when we talk about compliments. We’ve looked at how to receive and reply to compliments, but what about expressing compliments yourself?
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
When you are talking about expressing a compliment, you can use the verb “to give” or the verb “to pay.” This means that the phrase “to give a compliment” has exactly the same meaning as “to pay a compliment.” There is ultimately no difference in meaning or nuance between these two phrases.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” But sometimes, you might feel some stress or pressure when someone pays you a compliment. Understanding the common responses to compliments can help remove that conversational pressure.
Generally, you should say “Thank you” — or any sentence that shows your appreciation — after someone wishes you well or gives you a compliment. Then, you can transition the conversation to something that you have in common.
Of course, your friend might ask some follow-up questions after they compliment you and say, “You deserve it.” In that case, continue according to their questions and just go with the flow of the conversation.
The important thing to remember is to acknowledge and accept the compliment with a simple yet effective “Thank you.” This goes a long way to promote and maintain a friendly and fun vibe throughout your conversation.