The Art Of Complimenting

Have you noticed that people are a little stingy with their compliments? I’m not sure if women hold back their compliment to other women because there is that hidden underlying envy, or it’s part of the mean girl syndrome…I am not certain why it is, but I am certain that it is!


Giving and receiving compliments is truly an art. When done with sincerity and honesty, compliments can have a meaningful and lasting impact. Let’s dive into this subtle art form.


So—here is my philosophy on giving compliments. If you are thinking something kind in your head, why would you not share it? Let’s say you are out meeting your girl squad. If you see your gal pal and her skin looks radiant—radiant enough for you to notice—then voice that. I make it a point to voice those thoughts. It makes people feel good about themselves, and the fact that you noticed makes you observant, caring, and engaged. The person receiving the compliment definitely benefits from your kind words, and you do as well. Sometimes you will even get a great tip from the person you are complimenting. Like maybe she will let you in on the latest and greatest skin care product she is using.  


Here’s what it says about you when you give a genuine compliment:

You are observant and aware, you pay attention and you take notice.

You are not self-focused, you really look and acknowledge others.

You are confident with yourself to not feel envy or jealousy.

You are caring and choose to make others feel good about themselves.

Your character and spirit is kind and giving.


The art of complimenting is a very powerful form of communication. If a compliment is genuine and heartfelt, it has the ability to bring positive vibes to both the giver and the receiver. It has the force to make a person feel noticed, appreciated, acknowledged, and truly seen. The best part is when they are given freely, genuinely, and not coerced or somehow obligatory.


I can’t stress enough the importance of being genuine when complimenting. Don’t lower yourself by giving out a phony compliment, because it is usually quite obvious or transparent. A false compliment will only seem dubious and will have others questioning your motives.



Now let’s talk about receiving compliments. It is truly unfortunate that many of us just don’t know how to receive a compliment. When someone tells you that you look fantastic, do you say something like, “thanks, but I feel so ugly and disheveled today.” Or do you say something like, “Oh, this old thing I’m wearing?”


The problem with those responses is that not only do you deflate the compliment instantly, but you also invalidate the other person’s observation or feeling. They love how you look, so why would you strip them of that feeling or sentiment? When you negate their compliment, it makes the giver feel that you don’t think highly of their opinion, that you somehow diminish their observation or make it invalid.


 The very best way to receive a compliment is to do so with grace and appreciation—and a smile. You should say a genuine “thank you,” and allow yourself to feel the compliment, to bask in the joy it brings and how it makes you feel. Don’t shrug away a compliment given to you. There is tremendous positivity and energy in a compliment, and if you allow yourself to soak it in, you may even feel it affect your mood and outlook in a positive way. It can quite literally be powerful enough to make you feel like a million bucks, am I right?


Compliments can motivate, acknowledge, validate, uplift, and inspire others. So don’t let that moment pass when you are thinking wonderful thoughts about someone. They deserve to hear it, and will appreciate your kind candor. And without a doubt, their “feeling good” meter will surge.


Way too often our comments are soaked in criticism or complaints.  Instead, be generous with your compliments, and be uplifting with your words.


Here are some really great compliments to consider. Think about how these would make you feel:


I love doing life with you.

You had such a beautiful and endless capacity for being kind and caring.

I love how you inspire me always.

Your laughter is infectious.

You have the very best smile.

I love your outlook on life.

It’s amazing the impact you have on everyone around you.

Your skin is glowing.

You really light up a room.

I absolutely love your sense of style and grace.

That is a great color on you. It makes your eyes light up.

You are such a good listener. It’s so clear that you are.

You always have such great ideas!

I love your creativity!

You are one smart cookie!

You are more fun than bubble wrap!

You are stunning!

You sizzle in that outfit!

You are truly a breath of fresh air.

Looking good Girlfriend!

And one of my all-time faves, “Damn that confidence looks sexy on you!”



While doing my research for this blog, I came upon a story that touched me, and I wanted to share it with you all.


One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.


That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much" were most of the comments.


No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.


Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.


As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."


After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.


"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."


Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.


"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."


All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."


Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."


"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary."


Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."


And then the teacher cried. She had never known the power of her assignment, and the lifelong impact it had on her class of students.




Now that is powerful stuff. That is the power of compliments.



You know I always like to leave you with a quote to ponder…

Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”



So—when you are thinking good thoughts about someone, don’t shy away from complimenting them. Don’t miss that opportunity to uplift those around you.  Be genuine and make someone’s day….

So girlbosses, let’s not be stingy. Let’s master the art of complimenting….and start to dish ‘em out Ladies!


Karen Otis