Simple words of praise can lift someone’s spirit, improve the outlook of someone’s day, and even lead to a new relationship. So why don’t people offer more words of appreciation?
Recent research1https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167220949003?journalCode=pspc tells us why:
- We underestimate how positively the other person would feel if they received a compliment;
- We overestimate how uncomfortable the person would feel in the spotlight;
- We feel uneasy about our ability to give praise.
Rather than giving into praise paralysis, read on for tips on how to genuinely give compliments along with nice things you can say in person and in writing and why saying a kind word benefits you!
Below we have compliment ideas and praise scripts you can use. But first, let’s look at the benefits of praise…
5 Key Benefits of Giving Praise
Receiving a genuine compliment feels great, but did you know that it benefits both the giver and the recipient? It’s true. If you want a pick-me-up, consider finding someone you can praise.
We help others learn
Research2https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0048174 has shown that being complimented can improve performance and help people learn more quickly. The study found that when people received compliments while learning a new skill, their brains remembered the steps and could repeat the new skill more easily.
This is super helpful, for example, if you’re a manager training a new-hire employee or a parent teaching their child a new skill.
We spread good vibes
When you do something kind, like complimenting someone, there’s a ripple effect that lasts for a while. Results from a 2008 study3https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.0913149107 suggest that the positive act continues from person to person to person, so one good deed can result in three (or more!) others.
For example, if you compliment a stranger at a Starbucks, that person may say something nice to a coworker later in the day.
Your stress level decreases
Your stress level decreases when you do something kind, like offering a compliment. In one study4https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2167702615611073, researchers found that those who performed more acts of kindness throughout the day were less likely to report negative emotions and could maintain their positive emotions better. So if you’re feeling stressed, consider giving a genuine compliment.
When you praise your child for a good deed, the tension in your neck may lessen.
You feel better about yourself
Offering compliments and other acts of kindness trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood stability. It also boosts your oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel connected to other people. These two hormones make you feel better about yourself and emotionally stable.
If you’re feeling lonely, take a minute to call or text someone who is important to you. This quick note will help you feel more connected to them, AND you’ll make their day.
You get an immunity boost
Because stress represses your immune system, reducing stress5https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889159122003336 can boost your immunity. Of course, stress reduction can happen in a variety of ways, but a simple way to make a difference is by saying something kind to a friend, your partner, a coworker, or even the barista at the coffee shop.
Look for someone and something to compliment. While you won’t see an immediate immune response, your stress will be reduced, and you’ll be doing something good for your body.
3 Quick Tips for Giving Genuine Compliments
Saying positive words about another doesn’t have to be overwhelming or challenging if you follow these simple tips.
- Be sincere. Believe in what you are saying. A genuine compliment is given without any expectation about the person’s response. However, insincere compliments or fake flattery will be obvious and leave you looking like a jerk.
If you find yourself struggling with not sounding fake when giving compliments, check out how to use adjectives strategically, give praise to someone you don’t know well, and why you should avoid the “real” compliment. Learn these strategies and more.
- Be specific. While it’s terrific to hear general feedback like “you’re really talented,” the compliment is even better when you hear the particulars. Being specific shows, you know why you think what you do and what you notice about the person’s efforts and genuine personality.
So instead of “you’re a nice person,” you might consider, “I thought it was nice of you to open the door for that person who had their hands full. That was really thoughtful.”
Or instead of “you’re very talented,” you might say, “I liked your creative approach to that problem. I would have never thought about it that way, and I appreciate your design talent.”
- Be quick to offer praise. If you’re complimenting a specific action or behavior, mention it early enough so that the compliment is clearly tied to the action. This works well whether it’s a coworker or your child, and the positive reinforcement helps encourage them to repeat the behavior in the future. Plus, when someone does a good job, it’s nice for them to know it immediately.
Best Compliments to Give in The Workplace
Kind words in the office contribute to a positive workplace by boosting morale and creating a supportive culture. They can also increase employee engagement which, according to science6https://www.gallup.com/workplace/321032/employee-engagement-meta-analysis-brief.aspx?thank-you-report-form=1, boosts team performance and productivity.
But complimenting people at work is an art, so be mindful of these two elements for success.
First, use language that is positive and focused on the work and professional skills rather than on something more personal, like their appearance.
Second, respect the role that you have and the other person has. The nature of the compliment may change depending on whether it’s for the CEO, a colleague, or an employee. Be sure to recognize these unique roles so that neither person is uncomfortable.
Here are some examples of appropriate workplace praise.
Compliment ideas for a boss or supervisor
Even bosses need appreciation, and one of these compliments may make their day.
- Thank you for listening to my concerns.
- Working with you has really helped me grow professionally.
- Thank you for creating a comfortable work environment.
- I really appreciate your guidance.
- Thank you for being clear about your expectations of our team. It’s beneficial.
- Thank you for giving me honest and straightforward feedback.
- I appreciate that you’ve allowed me to tackle this project.
- Your leadership style has provided a model I aspire to use in my own management approach.
- Thank you for allowing me to ask questions without feeling that you’re judging me.
- Thank you for taking the time to hear my feedback on this approach.
- I appreciate that you encourage discussion among our team.
- Thank you for caring about me as a whole person.
- I appreciate that you ask about my family. It means a lot that you see me as more than just an employee.
- Thank you for taking the time to mentor me. I feel like a better person because of the time you’ve taken to help me grow.
Want more on how to level up your skills?
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Have a question about the presentation or People School? Email Science of People support.
Compliment ideas for an employee
Your staff will feel appreciated when their work is recognized and acknowledged.
- I’ve been very impressed with your extra effort lately.
- Thank you for the effort you put into that memo. It was really well-written.
- Thank you for working with our new employee to bring them up to speed. I appreciate your kindness, and I’m sure they do as well.
- I appreciate your reliability and that I can always count on you.
- Thanks for handling that difficult situation with such grace.
- Being your supervisor is a privilege. You have a great attitude, you work hard, and you are always willing to pitch in.
- I couldn’t do this work without you!
- Your presentation was very comprehensive. Thanks for putting it together.
- I appreciate you really taking in feedback from others. I can tell you are really making an effort.
- Thanks for showing up on time every day. I appreciate knowing I can count on you.
- I am grateful for your attention to detail. You are so good at making sure nothing gets overlooked.
- Thank you for making all of us look professional with your powerful presentations.
- You did that so well!
- You are a significant contributor to our positive work environment!
Compliment ideas for a colleague
A positive workplace lifts everyone up. One of your colleagues may appreciate hearing one of these affirmations from you.
- I am so grateful to be on the same team as you.
- Thanks for trusting me with this critical information.
- You are good at handling pressure during tough times. Would you be willing to share some tips?
- I admire the way you give your full attention to the customer.
- That was an outstanding presentation. Great job!
- I enjoy collaborating with you because you’re so creative.
- I like your approach to solving that problem. It’s not something I would have thought of on my own.
- Your enthusiasm for the company is inspiring.
- Thank you for modeling outstanding teamwork.
- You make coming to work fun with your joke of the day!
- You have a tremendous work ethic.
Practice standing up for yourself while maintaining your likeability with these tips for being assertive.
Need Email Compliments? Try Written Praise
Sometimes putting compliments in writing is appropriate, particularly in cases where you want something to go in an employee file, if the recipient is hesitant to be the center of attention, or if your words may be something they want to reread. Consider using one of these templates:
Praising your boss in writing
Thank you for the time you took yesterday to help me better understand the parameters of this new assignment. It makes me feel like a valued team member that you’d ask me to do it. I appreciate that you have an open-door policy and make me feel comfortable asking questions when I have questions.
Complimenting your employee
I wanted to send you a note to tell you how much I appreciate your attention to detail and contributions. You continue to impress me as an essential member of our team. Keep up the great work.
Complimenting a coworker
I’m sending you this note to tell you how impressed I was with the presentation you gave at yesterday’s meeting. It was so well done, and your expertise in this area shone through. Great job!
Best Meaningful Compliments To Give to Various Audiences
Now that you know the benefits of giving compliments and tips for doing it well, here are 150 compliments you can give to the people in your life.
A kind word is always appreciated. Here are several general ones you can use with anyone you encounter.
- I appreciate you for [fill in the blank with an adjective].
- I’m so glad I met you.
- I’m glad we ran into each other. It’s the highlight of my day.
- I hope my child grows up to be like you.
- You are my favorite human to [fill in favorite activity].
- You are all that and a bag of chips.
- I wish more people were like you.
- You make me smile.
- You are a great listener.
- You have excellent posture. I bet your grandmother is so proud of you.
- You keep me motivated to keep going when times are tough.
- I have so much fun when I am with you.
- You are like a ray of sunshine.
- Being your friend is like winning the friend lottery.
- Who raised you? They deserve a gold star for a job well done.
- Being with you is like a happy little vacation.
- You deserve a medal for awesomeness.
- You light up a room every time you enter it.
- You have a magnetic personality, and people are drawn to it, just like a moth to a flame.
- You radiate goodness.
Compliments on personal traits
Who doesn’t want to receive a compliment about the characteristics or traits they embody? Try one of these when you want to remind people of what you find impressive or special about them.
- You are so diplomatic.
- You are level-headed in the best way.
- You have great style.
- I wish everyone had your courage.
- I love your strength.
- You are a beacon of light.
- You are the personification of joy.
- I like your bravery.
- You are incredible.
- You have a beautiful voice.
- I love that you make the person you’re speaking with feel like they’re the only person in the room.
- Your authenticity is inspiring.
- I like that you set a goal and go after it.
- You are so thoughtful.
- I like your commitment to being 100% you.
- You have terrific self-awareness.
- You have the best laugh.
- You have impeccable grammar.
- You have impeccable manners.
- Your positive attitude is infectious!
- You have a great sense of humor.
- You have time management skills nailed.
- I appreciate I can be myself around you.
- You are so open to learning new things and meeting new people.
- Thank you for being so flexible.
- You are so patient with yourself and others. I admire that trait.
- I love that you choose to see the best in everyone.
Compliments on intelligence
- These compliments highlight a person’s intellect and smarts.
- You’re brilliant.
- You are a fantastic problem-solver.
- You would be my choice for a partner on trivia night.
- You have an amazing recall for every song lyric on the plant.
- I completely believe you can do anything you decide to tackle.
- You come up with the best ideas.
- I love that you’re a lifelong learner.
- You are the grammar queen.
- I appreciate that you are quick to recognize when you’ve made a mistake and fix it.
- You have a good head on your shoulders.
- You are a great teacher because you are so patient and understanding with your explanation.
- You are so bright, and I appreciate you for not looking down on me while I learn new things.
- I love how you speak about your passion for [subject] and teach me about it.
- I admire your ambition and drive.
- You’re so intelligent. I bet you do Sudoku in ink.
- Would you mind if I called you Einstein because you’re so smart?
- I would definitely pick you to be my trivia partner every time.
Compliments on creativity
- These compliments note a person’s creativity and can be used in a variety of situations.
- You make the colors of the rainbow come together in a beautiful painting.
- I am impressed at how you pulled that together to create something unique.
- I need some creative input, and you are the best thinker I know. Can you help?
- You have such a cool way of thinking about things.
- You are the glitter goddess. Everything you do shines!
- I love how you take old materials and turn them into new things.
- It’s fascinating to watch you create something from nothing.
- You have a gift of turning the routine into something extraordinary.
- You are like a beautiful splash of color in the world.
- The way you’ve put together your home is impressive. It feels like a warm hug.
- I love that you see the world through a different lens. It brings color and life to it.
- Your art moves me to tears.
- I have never read anything that moved me as much as your article. Just phenomenal.
Compliments on service
- When you want someone to feel great, say something about their willingness to help others. Here are a few options to consider.
- You are the most giving person I know.
- I think your picture appears in the dictionary with Mother Teresa next to the word –servant.
- I admire your willingness to help anyone in need.
- Thank you for offering your time, talent, and gifts to me.
- You are so generous with your knowledge.
- Your spirit of giving is so inspiring.
- Thank you for helping me out with that project. It was really lovely to spend time with you.
- I appreciate the extra brainpower in attacking that issue. Thank you for being available to help.
- Thank you for a great dining experience. Your service was impeccable.
- You made this process so easy. Thank you for your outstanding customer service.
- I’d like to write a thank you to your boss to highlight how easy you made this process. Would you please provide me with their contact information?
- Your service was tremendous. I hope your boss recognizes just how fabulous you are.
Compliments on appearance
Hearing a positive remark about your appearance can really lift your spirits if in the right context. But these compliments are most appropriate for personal or social situations. Keep appearance-based compliments out of the workplace to avoid any misunderstanding or discomfort.
Additionally, you’ll want to be sensitive to the fact that comments related to appearance may be triggering for people suffering from an eating disorder or with body image issues.
- Your hair looks so good today.
- You are glowing in the best way.
- Your outfit is on-point.
- I love your [fill in the blank]. Would you share your styling tips?
- Your eyes are sparkling today.
- I love how the sun is shining almost as bright as your eyes.
- You look stunning.
- That blouse highlights your eyes.
- I love seeing your friendly smile.
- You smell delicious today.
- Your laugh is contagious.
- I love your shirt. Where did you get it? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?
- I love your bald head. It shows off your good brain shape.
- You are so put together today. I like it!
- You have such a warm smile.
- You look fabulous no matter what you’re wearing.
- You’d look like someone I’d want to be friends with.
- You look so cozy today—like a warm hug waiting to be given.
- Great outfit!
Pro Tip: Give Compliments Based on Love Language
Do you prefer to hear kind words spoken or to receive a lovely card or email with a kind sentiment so you can save it and refer back to it? Because each person has a different primary love language, the way you give your compliment can be amplified if you have the benefit of knowing their love language.
Here are ways you might match your compliment with the different love languages.
If their love language is quality time, you might say, “I’d love to hike with you today to show you what an amazing person I think you are.”
If physical touch helps them feel loved, consider saying, “I want to give you a foot rub because I know you’re always on your feet helping others, which I greatly admire in you.”
- If gifts is their love language, consider buying something and saying, “I offer you this gift as my way of saying I think you’re divine!”
If acts of service speak to them, you might try something like this: “I see you doing so much to help others, and I’d like to do something for you. Can I clean the garage or fold the laundry?”
- Finally, while all of these examples include words of affirmation, if it is the primary love language, they will really appreciate the specifics of the compliment—and they may have a preference about whether it is written or spoken to them.
If you struggle with understanding another person’s emotions and relating to people, learn 15 habits to be more empathetic using our empathy guide.
The Big Praise Takeaway
Compliments can be a happiness bomb for you and make another person’s day, so don’t forget the value they extending kind words can have. Following these tips can help you become more confident in your words of affirmation.
Be authentic. Identify something you value or that resonates with your friend/colleague/partner. It may be something like generosity, flexibility, or creativity.
Consider how the person reflects that trait. Think about how and why the person reflects that trait or value. For example, if generosity is important, and your colleague is willing to spend time with you, remark on that.
For example, “It sure meant a lot that you took time out of your day to help me move ahead on my assignment. It made me feel important and valued.”
Keep it sincere and specific. Try to be genuine in your praise and use adjectives to add specificity to your compliment. It’s much more meaningful when a specific trait and experience is highlighted.
If you loved this article and want to learn more about getting people to like you (and receiving more compliments!), learn about the similarity-attraction effect and five science-based strategies to be more likable.