It sounds so simple, and yet sharing the perfect compliment really can make someone's day. So go ahead and dish 'em out, whenever the mood strikes, and watch as you bond with people you meet, make your friends feel great, and leave all your interactions on a more positive note.
Of course, you don't want to go overboard, or risk sounding disingenuous by saying any old thing and not really meaning it. But once you figure out how to share a well-timed and meaningful compliment, this skill will make everyone in your life feel amazing — from your neighbor, to your coworker, to the barista down the street.
The key, again, is to be genuine, as well as a little bit unique. "Find something you truly appreciate about the person," Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a NYC-based therapist, tells Bustle. And then cater your compliment to them, their glowing personality, and/or something wonderful they did or said.
"There are numerous ways to express appreciation for others," Hershenson says. "One important way is verbally. Certain statements can help strengthen your relationship with others making them feel supported, heard, and appreciated." Read on for a few compliments, and complimenting tips, that you can use with everyone you meet.
1. Be Specific
"Compliments that will make people feel great will be those that are specific and based on facts and experiences of the person, rather than an over-generalized positive statement," Tiffany Ashenfelter, licensed professional therapist, tells Bustle. So instead of walking up to someone and saying "you're awesome," tell them why you think they're awesome. Are they a great listener? Do you admire their drive? Be specific.
Pointing out something specific caters the compliment to that person, and thus feels much more genuine. There is, after all, a reason you feel the need to compliment them, and it can be really nice to say it out loud.
2. Say Their Name
People love to hear the sound of their own name, and saying it can be another way to make a compliment feel more personal and special. So while you're forming one that focuses on what makes them great, consider starting it all off by using their name.
"Using someone’s name communicates, 'I see you and you matter to me,'" Natalie Franke, a networking expert, tells Bustle. It isn't just a compliment thrown out casually, but one that's personal and clearly intended for this person.
And really, what could feel better than that?
3. Say What You Like About Their Personal Style
Complimenting someone's style may seem superficial, but if you link the compliment to something unique about them, it can go way beyond simply likely a shirt or a cool necklace.
"We are all so beautifully unique and our style is an artistic way of expressing who we are in that moment, so bringing attention and appreciation to a choice in fashion is a fun way to say, 'Hey! I like who you are right now,'" life coach Madeleine Culbertson tells Bustle.
It then becomes about so much more than a piece of clothing, and instead a direct compliment about that person, their likes and interests, and how they express themselves to the world.
4. Praise Their Listening Skills
If your friend just spent a minute listening to your long list of problems (great friend, btw), nothing could show gratitude more than complimenting their listening skills.
"Tell them that they are a great listener and that their listening has helped you out tremendously," Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "Because the listener isn't saying much they don't think they are helping."
And yet, when you just need to vent, nothing could be further from the truth. "Letting the person know that 'doing nothing' was helpful will light up their day," he says.
5. Acknowledge Their Effort
After putting in a ton of effort — either at work, in school, etc. — it can mean a lot to have your hard work acknowledged and recognized, coach Lisa Sansom tells Bustle. So go ahead and be that encouraging, uplifting person for somebody else.
You could, for example, tell a coworker why you appreciated their extra help, and explain why it meant so much to you. It's all about paying attention to what other people are doing around you, and highlighting the good stuff.
6. Point Out How Kind They Are
If you really want to warm someone right to their core, compliment their kind personality, such as how kind they are. As Klapow says, "Telling someone they are kind-hearted, have a caring-heart, etc. elevates the 'nice' compliment, because you are speaking directly to who they are, versus what they have done."
You really can hear the difference between "you're so nice" and "you have a kind heart." Anyone can do something nice, but being kind overall is next-level.
7. Be Honest And Heartfelt
Again, the key to giving compliments is to only dish them out when they're honest and genuine. This means choosing the right time and really meaning it, versus tossing them around casually.
After all, "an honest and heartfelt compliment can be so powerful in changing the way someone feels about themselves," coach Lizi Jackson-Barrett, tells Bustle. "The key is to be specific. Saying 'you look nice today' isn’t likely to have much impact. But telling someone you always admire their gorgeous smile, or that they look great in the color they’re wearing can give them a huge boost."
It shows you really see them. And since everyone likes to feel seen and appreciated, it can mean a lot.
8. Don't Direct The Attention Back To You
"The goal of complimenting someone is to make their day better," Amy Ogden, a marketing expert and inspirational blogger, tells Bustle. "The most impactful compliments are brief and don’t call attention back to yourself." so while you may be tempted to knock yourself down in the process to build them up, resist.
"It’s better to say, 'Your skin looks incredible lately!' rather than, 'Your skin looks so good, I wish mine looked like that,'" Ogden says, "because then you’re asking the complimentee to praise you back and discount your compliment." And that takes some of the energy out of it.
9. Let Them Know They Had An Impact
Since most people only want to feel appreciated, any compliment that calls attention to the impact they've made will certainly mean a lot. This may be something you can try to do at work, especially if you have a coworker who constantly goes above and beyond.
"People often don't realize they are having an impact beyond one person," Klapow says. "Reminding them or highlighting for them how their impact goes beyond you is powerful."
10. Call Attention To Their Skills
Everyone needs a little reminder of their amazingness, so don't be afraid to point out someone's positive traits and talents. "We spend so much of our time doubting ourselves, our abilities, our personality traits, that having it reinforced to us that something about us is special or interesting or awesome can be incredibly gratifying," therapist Katie Krimer, MA, LMSW tells Bustle. "For example, telling someone that they're a great parent (every parent worries about being a good parent), or that someone is one of the most loyal friends they've ever had, can make someone feel more confident in the traits that they may doubt within themselves."
11. Pay Attention To The Little Things
When giving a compliment, remember it's not only necessary to point out grand, sweeping gestures. "Sometimes it's the small things that count," Krimer says. "If your barista made you a kick-ass coffee, let them know! They make a billion a day, so it'll probably feel extra great to hear that something small that they did impacted a random passerby."
By dishing out genuine compliments, you'll make everyone you meet feel a little bit better, and you'll leave interactions feeling a little more positive. While it's not a job you necessarily have to take on 24/7, it may be something you can allow yourself to do more often, whenever the mood strikes.