After being the contest coordinator for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for four years out of five, I've heard all types of responses to the news of being a finalist or winner.
Some responses are frustrating. Like when I've called to tell someone they finaled and I hear "What contest did you say this was? What was the name of my entry?" Gee, that tells me they've entered and probably finaled in too many contests. I can promise you when it comes to the ones I enter, I know when they're to call, which manuscript I've sent in, and what version. Yes. I do maintain a spreadsheet. I'm a little OCD about that.
Other times you call and get their voicemail. I guess I could leave a message for them to call me back, but they would already know the reason I'm calling (if they're not like the one I mentioned above) and some probably wouldn't even return my call. So I leave a voicemail and hope they're the type to listen to it over and over again, so excited they finaled. Well anyway, that's what I did one time when I receive a voicemail like that.
Then you have the ones who have obviously finaled over and over again and they say "That's nice. Thank you," all in a calm businesslike voice. By then I imagine my hands around their neck and shaking.
On occasion I get one who's excited but says the wrong thing like "I'm shocked!" Okay. I understand this might be your first one. Or maybe you just slammed together the entry at the last minute and never expected it to final. Come on people. I'm now rechecking the score as you say for the third time, "I'm shocked!" Have I made a mistake? Did I add the scores wrong? If you're excited about finaling or winning, don't say you're shocked. Think positive and say, "That's wonderful!" Miracles do happen. Miracles are wonderful. So be sure to say so.
That leads into good things to say. The one I usually say during the rare times I get a call about finaling is "That's the best news I've heard in a long time!" And that's after I squeal. I know how hard that coordinator worked and I can tell you she gets as happy and excited as you do when you act thrilled. I know I get as giggly as the finalist. I've been told by one coordinator I'm her contest's favorite finalist because of my reaction. They feel appreciated and they'll remember you in a good way. I promise.
What type of finalist are you? Or would you be?