Just say ‘thank you’ if you receive a compliment. You may not feel you deserve it, but thanking the person complimenting you is both the quickest way and the politest.
I shouldn’t really be preaching here, as I’m very bad at receiving praise. It’s odd how it feels easier to say several grumbly things, rather than just the one ‘thank you.’
It was reading Johan Norberg in Vi, and how he finds compliments hard to deal with, that made me think about this. Because he had once come across his favourite author and done the fan thing, only to be told that the author considered himself a fraud and also totally un-interested in what he had written about.
And that was that. Johan lost every positive feeling he’d had about these books and their creator. In some odd way he even lost the pleasure of what he’d read in the past; not just that he wouldn’t want to read anything new by this writer.
The question is why anyone would respond like that when meeting an admirer. Better to say ‘I’m glad you liked it’ even if you happen to know you did a poor job of whatever it was.
I don’t believe I have had anyone say anything of the kind to me, but I do find that with some people, just meeting them in real life changes how I feel about their work. Obvious, I suppose. Some you come to adore, but there’s always one or two I wish I’d not actually met.