How Do I Give Compliments?

Compliment graffiti.
Compliments should be sincere.. Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures / 18043 Images

Compliments are less likely to be given by people who suffer with social anxiety than those who are naturally comfortable in social situations. However, by learning the rules of giving good compliments, and putting them into practice daily, you can become just as adept at giving praise.

Giving compliments is an important social skill to learn because it is a great way to start conversations, develop social bonds, and reduce anxiety about communicating.

But just how do you go about giving a compliment?

  1. Don't start giving out compliments randomly. You should honestly believe what you are saying or it will come across as insincere.
  2. Make sure your compliment is specific rather than general. Instead of "Your kitchen looks great," you might say something like, "Your kitchen looks great, I really like your new cabinetry and hardware."
  3. Just as in receiving compliments, giving compliments enables you to start a conversation. You might add in, "Where did you get the cabinets from" or "Who did you have install your kitchen?"
  4. Consider the setting and your relationship with the person to make sure that the compliment is appropriate. Comments of a personal nature should be reserved for close friends and intimate surroundings.
  5. Use creative and unusual words instead of everyday ones. Which would stay with you longer -- "Your new dress is really nice" or "Your new dress is eye-catching. The fabric is out of this world!"
  1. Take opportunities to compliment character rather than objects, as these types of compliments are rarely heard. For example, compliment a mother on her compassion for her children, or a teacher on his ability to keep students motivated.
  2. Be willing to give constructive criticism. Compliments tend to mean more coming from someone who is willing to share bad news in addition to good.
  1. Don't be afraid to compliment people in authority. People in power tend to receive fewer compliments and you might be pleasantly surprised at the response you receive -- they will probably welcome the feedback.
  2. When complimenting someone with low self-esteem, it may be better to avoid inflated praise and to compliment behavior rather than personal characteristics. Research has  shown that when children with low self-esteem are given inflated praise or praise about their personal characteristics, it tends to backfire, making them feel worse about future failures or avoid future challenges.

Once you have mastered the art of giving compliments, you may find that you are also better at gracefully receiving compliments. Remember, whether giving or receiving, compliments should always be a positive experience.


Brummelman E et al. That's not just beautiful--that's incredibly beautiful!": the adverse impact of inflated praise on children with low self-esteem. Psychological Science 2014;25(3):728-735. doi: 10.1177/0956797613514251.

Brummelman E et al. On feeding those hungry for praise: Person praise backfires in children with low self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143.1 (2014) : 9-14.

Trunk P. Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. New York: Business Plus; 2007.

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