Grammar and vocabulary experts like me quickly chimed in to express our frustration that if we stick to the dictionary definitions, people often use “humbled” when they are likely to use the term “honored.”
The action was firmly rejected by thousands of others, calling it humblebragging. And a couple of others expressed a desire for some form of phrase to express disappointment and frustration with a sudden showing of recognition and a precise expression that would give credit to those who helped you get there without being arrogant. Here’s how to use the right words to avoid looking ignorant and egomaniac while receiving Custom Awards.
“I’m honored,” vs. “I’m humbled.”
Let’s go into a more in-depth definition, just a little further, why the right word is honored, and how humbly it can be done to accept an award and celebrate your achievement. It would undoubtedly be a huge honor if one were to win a particular prize. It is a tremendous honor, recognized as a symbol of REALLY GOOD journalism throughout the world. But if their local young professional club only honored their work after one received that specific award, one might not find the prize to be that much of an achievement — it doesn’t come with that much recognition.
If one took the time to show up and accept the award, saying “I’m honored to receive this award” would also express gratitude and respect for the time and effort it took for my peers to recognize my achievements. Saying “it’s an honor” means you don’t find this recognition to be under you. Saying “I’m humbled” in any of these cases makes no real sense.
Here’s Another Issue: People’s Discomfort With Compliments
Individuals are often unable to accept compliments. Yes, it’s worse than that: many people were taught to ignore and deny compliments because our society is so obsessed with modesty interpretation.
As a consequence, they rarely end up sputtering on stage or social media with phrases like “I’m humbled,” trying to make sure everybody understands they’re not egomaniacs while making sure they know they’ve been awarded a prize.
Tips To Addressing Compliments Or Awards
- Start by saying, “thank you.” Half the time, it’s enough to provide a simple answer. If you believe you don’t deserve the praise — not because you think you’re a worthless piece of crap that doesn’t merit any compliments — because someone else deserves the tribute, then point that out. “It’s very cool, thank you. But in fact, SoAndSo is the person who deserves credit for this.
- Say, “I am honored.” To see something as an honor implies to appreciate the award giver or the compliment. You see them as respected and admire their recognition. If you were an insecure egomaniac, you wouldn’t feel that way.
- Grant credit where it is due for credit. Call the people or organizations who made it possible for you to do this. Do not make it an exhaustive list, but take the time to name the people who have been helping you, stuck their neck out for you, and sacrificed for you.
If you’re uncomfortable in the spotlight, keep your comments brief and quickly get out of the spotlight. There is no need to assign it a value judgment. And if you feel good and proud and validated by this award or affirmation, then say so too! Taking pride in the hard work that leads to great results is not a bad thing. As I wrote last week, I think this is one of the keys to building trust.