Giving great compliments

Becoming better at giving compliments can have a great increase in positive human interactions. This is how I learned.

I remember a compliment I received a couple of years ago. A friend, who happened to be a perfectionist said:

You're like a painting that hangs straight

It is one of the best compliments I have ever received. I started thinking; "How can I make other people feel the same way?". Here are some of the conclusions I've made during the last couple of years.

Be genuine#

Giving compliments just for the sake of it works to some extent. Let's face it; not many people are going to have a heartfelt moment by them getting to know how good looking their jacket is, It is a bit more of a courtesy thing, which is not the thing you are going for. You want to play music on their heart.

How do you get there, though? Think about the person and in what ways they have positively affected you. It is a little bit like a gratitude exercise. Then you notice that it is usually about something they do, or something related to their personality.

The key components#

I have tried to break down a compliment into two components. It is inspired by the components in Nonviolent Communication.


Be specific with what is positive about them. Some time you need to zoom in a bit.


What does it make you feel? Warm? Good? Thankful? It doesn't have to be very complicated - it just has to be true!

Your perspective#

This part is about communicating the difference that the feeling made. It could be about how you had a really shitty morning and that it all went away just because they said "Hi!" and gave you a very friendly smile.

This part isn't required, but rather a way to reinforce the compliment by underlining how they made your life less shitty.


The way I see you actively listen to people makes me feel so hopeful in these uncertain times

  1. Active listening
  2. Hopefullness
  3. Express some kind of general worry about the state of things

Become better at receiving compliments#

I used to have a hard time receiving compliments. I just brushed them off as it was nothing. That behaviour doesn't really encourage people to give you compliments.

At the very least; stand up straight, look them in the eyes and say "Thank you, I appreciate it!".

In the future...#

...make some paintings hang straight! Practice giving compliments to people as soon as you notice something positive they do.

Have a good one! /Tobias