wikiHow to Give a Compliment

Four Parts:Compliment HelpKeeping it RealExpressing Yourself SincerelyKnowing What to Avoid

Everyone loves a nice compliment, but giving one is easier said than done. You have to get the tone just right, or else someone might take your compliment the wrong way. The key? Say something you honestly believe to be true, and then deliver your compliment in a sincere tone of voice. Your genuine warmth will not go unnoticed, and you just might make someone’s day.

Compliment Help

Sample List of Compliments

Compliment Flirt Cheat Sheet

Sample Compliment Reactions

Part 1
Keeping it Real

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    Find something you genuinely like about the person. It’s easy enough to pick the first thing you notice about someone and compliment it. You could say “I like your shirt” or “Nice hair” to just about anyone, but a good compliment goes deeper. Take a moment and think about what you really admire about the person before you say anything. Your compliment will be appreciated if it’s clear you really mean what you say.
    • On the other hand, never give someone a false compliment. For example, if your friend walks in wearing a new pair of boots you think are tacky, don’t compliment them. Maybe she’ll believe you, maybe she won’t, but if you make a habit of giving compliments you don’t really mean, you won’t come off as sincere, and eventually your words will mean less to people.
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    Compliment someone’s point of pride. A compliment will feel more special when it’s clear you’ve noticed something that really matters to the person you’re talking to. For example, if your mother-in-law spends a lot of time cultivating her beautiful flower garden, you could compliment her on her excellent eye for color. Complimenting someone on what they’re really good at is a sure way to bring a smile to his or her face every time.
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    Say something that isn’t obvious. Another good tactic when it comes to giving genuine compliments is to pick out something that most people wouldn’t notice, something that shows you’re really paying attention to the person. Non-obvious compliments are the kind that people remember and cherish for the rest of their lives.
    • For example, you could tell your little sister that you noticed how hard she worked in her art class this semester, and you think she’s got a talent for photography.
    • Or you could tell a guy you’ve got a crush on that you admire the kindness he shows everyone he talks to, even little kids. Maybe he’s used to getting compliments on his muscular physique, so your compliment will really stand out.
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    Don’t compliment everyone the same exact way. If you tell most people you see “I like your outfit” or something similar, the end result will be that the people you compliment won’t feel very special. Complimenting people on their specific positive attributes goes a lot further. If you find yourself giving the same shallow compliments a lot, pause and think a little longer before speaking next time. Come up with something genuine to say, or don’t say anything at all.
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    Focus on achievements more than physical traits. It’s always nice to get a compliment like “You’re so pretty” or “I like your shoes,” but the best compliments are those that point out someone’s awesome achievements or personal qualities. Complimenting people on something they’ve worked on means more than complimenting the person on something they have nothing to do with, like the color of their eyes.
    • If you’re looking for a nice compliment to give to the girl you have a crush on, she’ll probably respond better to “I think your English essay was brilliant” than to “Your lips are sexy” or “you have a really nice chin.”
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    Compliment generously, but not excessively. There’s a limit to how many compliments a person wants to hear. Showering someone with compliments will make each individual compliment seem to mean a little less. If you compliment a little more sparingly, your words will resonate more.
    • Spread your compliments out among more than one person, too. If you compliment the same person all the time, he or she might feel like you’re getting a little obsessed.
    • Compliment only when something really strikes you as worth bringing up. Don’t compliment just for the sake of saying something or trying to look like you’re a nice person. It’s not about looking good, but about making someone else feel special.

Part 2
Expressing Yourself Sincerely

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    Express your compliment warmly. Delivery is everything when it comes to complimenting someone. There’s no one perfect way to deliver a compliment. The important thing is to sound like you really mean what you say, so that your compliment isn’t taken the wrong way. Since there’s a certain brand of meanness that involves tossing out fake compliments, you want to make sure the person you’re complimenting knows you’re being serious.
    • Make sure the person can hear you clearly, so it doesn’t sound like you’re saying something under your breath.
    • Read the situation and don’t compliment someone if it could be construed as insincere. For example, if your new classmate walks in wearing a skirt with lots of wild colors, and everyone’s looking, you might not want to draw attention to her in front of people who may not like the skirt as much as you.
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    Smile, but don’t laugh. It’s always a nice idea to give a compliment with a smile, though you can also deliver it with a serious and sincere expression. However, if you laugh while you’re complimenting someone, he or she might not know whether you’re serious. You might appear to be joking, which can ruin the whole effect. Try not to laugh while you’re complimenting someone unless the quality you appreciate has something to do with the person’s humor.
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    Make eye contact. It’s an easy way to show that you mean what you say. Making eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication that helps people understand each other better. If you look down or look away, you’ll appear to be less sincere than if you make eye contact while you’re talking.
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    Watch your tone of voice. Do your best to say it like you mean it, and not in a weird tone that could be taken the wrong way. The best compliments leave no room for misunderstandings. The recipient knows that you mean what you say, and he or she comes away from the conversation feeling good about it. It sounds pretty simple, but it’s common for compliments to carry hidden meanings. For example,
    • If you sound a little sarcastic, the person might think you’re making fun of him or her.
    • It’s also possible to come off sounding jealous of the person you’re complimenting. Make sure you don’t seem angry or envious.

Part 3
Knowing What to Avoid

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    Avoid backhanded compliments. This might be the worst type of “compliment” there is. A backhanded compliment is one that sounds really nice at first, but then the real meaning of the statement hits. It’s a passive-aggressive way to really hurt a person’s feelings. It’s possible to deliver a backhanded compliment without even knowing you’re doing it.
    • For example, you might say something like, “Wow, I really like your hair today. What’s different?” By saying this, you’re implying that you don’t like the person’s hair very much on other days.
    • Or you might say, “You’re amazing at baseball, for a girl.” Attaching a qualifier to the end of your compliment turns it into an insult.
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    Don’t mistake a cat call for a compliment. Yelling a “compliment” at someone walking down the street is actually highly insulting. The point of a compliment is to make someone feel good, and yelling about someone’s physical features is likely to do just the opposite.
    • Even if some people say they like being cat called, not everyone does — not by a long shot. If you really want to make someone feel good, even a stranger, don’t yell something in passing. The same rules apply to giving compliments to a stranger and giving compliments to someone you know: you need to find something sincere to say and deliver your compliment respectfully.
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    Avoid demeaning comments. You probably already know what these are, and you’d probably never say them to someone. Even if you have a huge crush on someone and you want to ask her out — actually, especially if you want to ask someone out — don’t try to compliment someone on a sexual body part. It’s just rude, and in certain settings this type of comment can be construed as sexual harassment. Keep your compliments polite!


  • It takes a little courage if you're shy, but it isn't hard.


  • Don't lie just because you like the person. Be sincere, it's easy for people to see through lies.

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