|Just because your employee is a poor compliment receiver does not mean that you should be a poor compliment giver. If his work merits positive feedback, you should provide it.|
There are people who truly do not know how to take a compliment. For example, some are genuinely humble, while others regard such attention with feelings of embarrassment or even foolishness. Still others feel that they are not the ones who deserve such recognition.
Nonetheless, although the overt reaction of many of these people can appear to be negative, several of them still like knowing that their accomplishments are appreciated. One of the key elements of effective management is to understand your employees and vary your style dependent upon their needs, drives, and abilities. With this in mind, you are dealing with an employee who does not need much public adulation. This means that you should seriously consider going light in this area.
At the same time, since positive feedback has been consistently found to have a positive motivational impact, it will be interesting to see what happens if you provide him with some positive feedback in private. If you are again greeted with a snide comment, perhaps some constructive feedback about being snide is in order.