How To Give A Great Compliment

A really great, day-making compliment is more than "your hair looks great!" Click through for a surefire formula for making someone feel special + amazing
This guest post comes to us via Erin at  She drinks too much coffee, runs for fun and watches nerdy space dramas with her pile of furry animals while dual wielding delicious burritos.

I was out with some friends to celebrate a birthday. I wore a new dress that I’d picked up at H + M a few days earlier. I thought I looked a little gangly and I’d done something new with my hair that I wasn’t super happy about. I was standing around awkwardly, feeling very self-conscious and wishing I’d thrown on jeans and a t-shirt instead.

Just then a group of three women walked by, arms linked, chattering happily. As they passed us, one of them veered towards me, grabbing me by the elbow and with sincere enthusiasm said, “Your figure is uh-mazing!” I blurted out a surprised “Thank you!” as she and her girlfriends continued on their merry way.

Made. My. Night.

Now that’s a lady who knows how to cheer someone up. With one compliment she managed to assuage my insecurity and left me feeling pretty damn fabulous. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for someone? Yes, I think we would.

There are lots of reasons to compliment someone. You admire something about them. You’d like to brighten their day. You don’t know them very well and you’d like to connect in a way that says, “I like you! Let’s be friends!” Those are all great reasons.

We suck at giving compliments. We don’t give nearly enough of them, and when we do it can easily go all wrong. The truth is, paying someone a good compliment is not always simple if you’re not accustomed to doing it.

We may think that we sound insincere, accidentally say something that sounds vaguely insulting (“Your hair looks so much better that way!”) or chicken out completely for fear of sounding silly.

But practice makes perfect. The best way to get better at giving great compliments is to practice by giving lots of compliments.

What? No, I’m not suggesting you give an insincere compliment just for practice. What I am suggesting is that everyone (yes, everyone) has some positive traits that are compliment-worthy. Figure out what they are and tell them about it!

Dishing out awesome compliments does not come naturally to me, but I want to be better at it, and so I’ve started using this simple formula that makes it easy to flatter someone without sounding like an ass.

Here’s how to give a great compliment:
[how you feel about the thing] + [what the thing is] + [a reason why it’s great]

For example:
[I really love] + [your style of painting.] + [The colors you choose are so emotive!]

Of course, there are lots of other ways to phrase a great compliment, but this formula is a great start when you’re working towards being a first-class complimenter.

“You look fantastic in that dress. That color palette is so flattering on you.”

“I am so impressed with the party that you put together. The food was amazing and we had a really great time.”

“You did really great work on this project. It’s obvious that you put a lot of time and effort into it.”

Lastly, make sure your compliments are really compliments.

If you’re complimenting someone on something they’ve changed, be sure that you’re not poo-pooing their previous efforts. A compliment that makes someone feel bad is not a compliment at all.

“Your hair looks so much better that way!” is not a compliment, because it implies that you thought their last haircut sucked. A better option might be “That haircut looks great on you. Those bangs really make your eyes pop!”

Likewise, instead of saying “Your artwork has really improved.” you might say, “I love the style you’re painting in these days!” Isn’t that so much nicer?

So there you have it, friends. Go forth, start dishing out some awesome compliments and enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from making someone’s day.

Are you good at giving out compliments?  What’s the best one you’ve ever received?  Once, someone said “Sarah, it would never occur to you to be anyone other than yourself, would it?”  Annnnd, I chose to take that as a compliment.

P.S. 14 ways to show your friends you love them.

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash



I TOTALLY LOVE the way you write, it's like having a conversation with a pal. I know you've heard it thousands of times, but it's inspiring. 🙂

Ellie Kornexl

I always take more from compliments about things that I work hard on. When someone tells me they love my curly hair, it's like "well, ok, thanks, this is just the way it is." but when someone compliments me on a project I've done it really makes me happy. That's why I think the figure compliment meant so much, it wasn't that it was just a cute dress, it was a cute dress, that looked good on you and flattered you. So way to have a good figure and way to pick out rad clothes!

London + Grey

I'd never thought about whether or not I was good at giving compliments. I'll have to start paying more attention to myself!

But what I KNOW I'm not good at is receiving compliments! Sure, you can just say "thank you!" and move on. But what if someone says "You're so pretty!"?
(1) That's not really anything I did! Credit to my parents and their awesome genes!
(2) Simply saying "thanks!" and nothing else comes off a bit rude and snobby, no? I always imagine the Mean Girls scene: "So you agree? You think you're really pretty?"
(3) If I shoot a compliment back, it seems kind of forced. Like 'oh, they gave me a compliment so I need to compliment their shoes now!'

Oy. 🙂


I agree with Ellie – compliments are always a lot more meaningful if they're something the person has actually done themselves, rather than happening by chance. "Your eyes are a beautiful color." "Um, thanks, I made them myself?" "That makeup really flatters your eyes." "Thank you! I picked it out myself!" etc.


Great tips, a lot of times I don't give a compliment because I think they'll think it's weird or something. This is ridiculous, I know. The best compliments I get are when someone likes what I'm wearing without knowing I made it. I make a lot of my own clothes.

Mollie @ EatRunRead

Great tips! You should write a follow-up post on receiving compliments, since sometimes the way someone takes a compliment makes it more awkward for all involved.

Also, one thing that trips me up is 'compliments' that are actually statements (i.e. "You are so tan!"). I never know how to respond!


I love this post. There are so many times when I wanted to compliment someone, but instead said nothing for fear of it sounding back-handed.

Maybe you ladies can help me with this! I have a friend I don't see very often, and we aren't that close, but I know she is trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whenever I see her, we get on this subject, but I don't want to say anything about her weight, because I don't want it to come out wrong! What would be a good way to at least say that I notice a difference??


As someone who lost 70 pounds, I've had all sorts of comments ranging from "You look great!" (good!) to "You're so skinny! You look anorexic!" (bad! so bad!).

I think the best thing to say would be something along the lines of "You look fantastic! I can tell you've been taking good care of yourself!"

I know some people are afraid to comment for fear of pointing out that I was bigger before. That's why I like a general "you look great!" rather than "You look so thin now!"

Hope that helps!



I'm always nervous about giving compliments to strangers, it can feel a bit weird and personal and so I usually chicken out! I need to remember that it always brightens my day when a stranger says they like my hair/bag/shoes etc so I should just suck it up and say it!

I am a sucker for when anyone compliments my writing, or something that I've created – it's nice to be told you're pretty but it means so much more to me when it's something that I've put a lot of effort into!

Great post 🙂 xoxo


Awkward compliment incident: A friend and I were paying for coffee and the barista said to me "Wow, I love your glasses, they are such a cool colour!". I said thanks and said yeah, they're actually cheapies from specsavers, yay. Compliment accepted. He then felt the need to compliment my friend… so very awkwardly said "Yeah and your….um…necklace is pretty too…". Thankfully another waitress joined in and called him an awkward dork and to stop now before he dug his hole even deeper. It was an amazing hilarious moment, but his insincereity really stood out!

Katy Cousins

A homeless man told me that 'white girls just don't have an ass like [mine]' last week. I chose to take that as a compliment to both me and all non-white women's asses…


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The best compliment I ever received was written on the top of my literature essay in 7th grade (age 13): “A++ I’m impressed- and I’m not easily impressed!” Those words in red ink forever ensured my love of writing.


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