How to give a nice compliment

In the ranking of the most boring compliments, “You have beautiful eyes” ranks pretty undisputedly first, and has done so for decades. So you can drop that line. But other platitudes are also on this index. The most important thing about a compliment is that it seems like it was made by you just for that one person, so it is very personal in every way.

As with so many things, choosing the right compliment depends on the situation and the person opposite you, and of course on the relationship you have with the other person. When you say to your boss in the elevator that she has beautiful eyes, it sounds mega-trite, even if it’s actually a totally hackneyed phrase.

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We will guide you through the complex compliment course and also tell you how you react to a compliment.

What exactly is a compliment?

By a compliment, people generally understand a friendly and benevolent statement from one person to another. The person complimenting emphasizes external characteristics, character traits, achievements or activities of the person being complimented. The primary goal is to do something good for the other person – but it can also be the intention to make a positive impression or to ingratiate oneself.

How do I pay a compliment to someone?

The simplest thing is a compliment out of the situation, something you notice or remember at that exact moment. If someone has something new to wear, has done a job well or has pleased you in some other way. It will never sound more honest and authentic.

If there is something that you always find positive about a person, you just have to find the right moment to say it – preferably not between the sheets if the person has no opportunity to react appropriately.

He says your dress suits you? Does it feel good, say thank you. If not, say you have to go now. © Jacob Lund /

It becomes more difficult if the compliment is intended to achieve more than just the statement itself, for example if you want to suggest that you like the person beyond what is said. For then you should not only know exactly what you are saying, but also when, namely when you are both among yourselves and not listening to the wrong people.

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With the How it never matters to deliver the whole thing specially formulated and worn. If you like something in someone, then say it exactly the same way. Unless he or she has beautiful eyes. Then you have to think of something else.

How do I compliment colleagues?

Very open and friendly. In a professional environment you should of course always maintain a polite distance between yourself and people with whom you do not work closely. But that shouldn’t stop you from telling a colleague how good a dress suits her, or praising the colleague’s new haircut.

Even when talking to external conversation partners, a small compliment can be a good introduction to small talk. However, it is a good idea to think about what you are going to say afterwards. Because hardly anything is more embarrassing than a compliment that is not followed by a reply.

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It is said to have been useful for many a career to comment favourably on outfit decisions made by bosses. But keep the right measure and don’t celebrate every new pair of shoes with cheers and sighs.

As a woman, should I compliment men?

Basically, of course. But the reservation that lurks in this question is of course justified: There is a danger that a man might mistake a friendly remark for a prelude to flirtation. You should keep this in mind and refrain from paying the compliment if there is a chance of this misunderstanding

“Cool hat.” Those are the best compliments: out of the situation, honestly, good. © Jacob Lund /

But with men you already know better, it is not a problem. You can certainly tell a colleague that a suit or his new glasses suit him well. And of course you can whisper some nice things to your partner (or preferred partner).

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What are examples of successful compliments to men?

Of course that he is the best lover you ever had and of course that he has the biggest. All jokes aside: Depending on the type of lover you are actually doing something good for his ego. But it should be true or come from the heart. Besides, there are far less harmless ways to compliment a man. You don’t have to dig so deep into the drawer to do so. Remember that men are often just as insecure and vain as you are, and are just as happy when someone says something nice to them.

Here, too, it is crucial that the compliment fits the situation and the person. For example:

  • “New haircut? Looks great!”
  • “New shirt? Suits you!”
  • “Great presentation by you! Really great!”
  • “You cooked this? It’s insanely delicious.”

All this will please him, unless he is not interested in his appearance and hates his job.

But of course men also like to be praised in general, like this:

  • “You’re the best.”
  • “I am proud of you.”
  • “You make me feel good.”
  • “You make me happy.”
  • “You always manage to make me laugh.”

(According to unconfirmed rumors, the greatest and most beautiful compliment for men is when a woman tells them, “You’re right. But as I said: A compliment should be true and authentic)

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If you are in an intimate relationship with the man, the compliments may of course become more explicit. Apart from the praise mentioned, compliments like that work:

  • “You smell so good! What is it?”
  • “Wow, you look sporty. Have you lost weight?”
  • “I love to hear your voice in my ear.”
  • “You feel so good!”

How do I take a compliment myself?

Follow your feelings. In other words: If the compliment feels good, return that feeling. Say thank you and say, for example, “That’s very sweet of you!” If the compliment refers to an item of clothing or similar, tell a short story about where you got it, why you like it so much. Just think about how you would react best when you compliment someone else. This is a pretty good guide.

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If the compliment seems sleazy or inappropriate, ignore it with an icy stare or ask the complimenter, “What’s the point now?” In a professional situation, or even if you don’t know each other, it is highly inappropriate for a man to tell you that your skirt suits you very well. You should not let him get away with that.

Even though he means it nicely, but “You have beautiful eyes” is really lame as a compliment. © Jacob Lund /

Why do some compliments make me uncomfortable?

Probably because you do not like the sender and/or the situation. In other words: Because the complimenting person did not follow the rules mentioned above. The typical case is a clearly ambiguous compliment from a man you do not want to know about. But also insinuations in a professional context fall into this category.

Even your husband or boyfriend may come up with compliments that will cause you trouble, such as when he says what a beautiful woman you are in the middle of a heated discussion about his failings in the household. As in all other cases, you must try to draw a clear line. A compliment must not be a distraction or a weapon, otherwise the compliment maker’s intentions are usually dishonest.

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What’s a poisoned compliment?

Sometimes people who want to give you one use an apparent compliment to get back at you. Like when a woman says, “I’d love to wear this dress too short, but you’re great at it!” A reference to your beautiful legs? I don’t think so. Another example is when a colleague says to you in front of the boss about the cake you brought home: “You have such a great sense for domesticity.” That’s a pretty nasty buzz about your professional skills.

It’s best to answer such a blow right away, in this case for example with: “Unlike you, I can calculate UND cooking. And make real compliments.” Then tell the boss how much you love her new blouse.

Compliments make life nicer. If you want to say something nice to someone, you do it. If someone says something nice to you, you’ll be happy. Only if the situation feels bad should you react dismissively and build up distance.