Making a passing compliment might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but science proves that genuine praise can indeed have a powerful effect.
According to recent studies published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, participants reported feeling happier and more flattered than expected after receiving a compliment. Compliment-givers also reported being in a better mood after saying something kind to someone.
Nice commentary, when too general, remains just that—nice. While there’s nothing wrong with that, more attentive compliments can make people feel seen and appreciated for who they are. If you want your compliment to carry more weight, go the extra mile to make authentic statements that communicate added nuance and care.
If you want to make someone’s day, here are some meaningful compliments for everyone in your life. Keep in mind that while some scenarios below might specifically target a significant other or relative, you can reframe the compliment to be relevant to someone else.
1 “Your perspective on life makes me want to live more thoughtfully.”
This statement tells your friend that you admire how they carry themselves through life. For example, they might choose to see the silver lining in difficult situations or be mindful about setting boundaries at work.
2 “You make me laugh so much—I love how you hit the perfect tone and expression every time.”
Having a sense of humor that lands in just the right way is hard to nail. Complimenting a friend’s comedic delivery acknowledges a specific and rare trait.
3 “I admire your determination when you strongly believe in something.”
It’s easier to relent when your beliefs don’t align with others. Recognizing a friend’s tenacity communicates that you admire their persistence and strong ethos.
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For significant others
4 “I feel heard and seen when we have difficult conversations.”
In the heat of the moment, holding space for one’s partner can be challenging. This compliment acknowledges your partner’s effort and empathy.
5 “I appreciate your patience with helping my dad troubleshoot his phone.”
Playing the IT wizard might not be your partner’s idea of celebrating an event. Acknowledging their patience in this untimely situation shows how much you value their time. Of course, you can substitute any scenario in which your partner helped someone to show your admiration of their selflessness.
6 “I love your reassurance when things don’t go as planned. It helps me feel less stressed and confident that we can figure it out together.
Uncertainty can lead to feelings such as fear, worry, stress, or isolation. This compliment shows your partner how their attitude soothes you.
7 “I feel safe being vulnerable with you.”
Cultivating a safe space in your relationship is an ongoing process. Sharing that your partner encourages you to be unguarded about your feelings acknowledges the work they’ve put into the relationship and the trust you’ve built together thus far.
For family members
8 “I learned how to be a good person by watching how you treat others.”
This compliment, whether you’re giving it to a parent or close family member, is effective because it’s specific in the how and validates them as a role model.
9 “Your warm energy brings this family together.”
Some relatives exude the spirit of the family unit. Sharing the effect their energy or attitude produces (i.e., bringing the family together) adds context to this heartfelt compliment.
10 “I appreciate that you’re tactful when I need to hear hard truths.”
Sometimes family members see closeness as an invitation to force their blunt (sometimes hurtful) opinion on you. This compliment demonstrates that you value their honesty and their considerate approach.
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11 “I notice how hard you’re trying!”
This compliment is referred to as “process praise” and offers more meaningful feedback beyond general encouragement. It shows kids that you see their effort and can provide added motivation for them to continue along that path.
12 “Your creative ideas put a smile on my face.”
Children have a natural curiosity as they grow and learn more about the world around them. Sharing that their sense of wonder delights you heartens them to explore their ideas more.
13 “You’re so thoughtful for sharing your toys with your sibling. I love your generosity.”
This is an effective compliment for kids because you’re praising them for specific behavior and decisions they can control, and it also provides positive reinforcement.
14 “I hadn’t thought of it that way. You’ve given me something new to think about today.”
Acknowledging that they taught you something new shows kids that they are capable critical thinkers and add value to their worlds.
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15 “I really admired how you handled that difficult situation. You were so poised and level-headed.”
This compliment might come up with a difficult customer, a challenging presentation, or other tough scenarios. Complimenting a coworker this way shows empathy while commending their even-keeled demeanor.
16 “I appreciate that you step up for the team without being asked. You’ve personally saved me a lot of anxiety when _______.”
Let’s say you had to call out sick on the day of a big presentation, and a colleague offered to fill in your part of the PowerPoint. This compliment shares how you see them as a reliable teammate supported by a specific example while offering gratitude for their thoughtfulness.
17 “I enjoy hearing your comments and questions at meetings. It really pushes us to think deeper about the project.”
A compliment like this shows your colleague that you actively listen to their ideas and are driven by their insight.
18 “How you styled _____ with _____ is so fresh. You’re radiating confidence!”
Since you likely don’t know much about a stranger, commenting on their unique fashion sense can be a sincere compliment.
19 “Your laugh is infectious. It made me instantly smile.”
Of course, context matters here in that this compliment is only authentic if the stranger actually laughed aloud within earshot. Sharing that their laugh elicited joy in you might be just the thing that makes their day.
20 “You have great taste in ______.”
This compliment might be appropriate if you see a stranger with a stack of well-curated books, notice that stickers on their laptop are all of your favorite bands, or see they just ordered your exact custom concoction at the coffee shop. It’s a quick, simple nod that you two share a commonality.
This article was originally written in 2020 by Kelly Konya. It’s been updated to include new information.