Thursday, 23 May 2013

18 ways to pay a killer compliment

There is a phenomenon that I frequently observe, whereby two women cannot greet each other without exchanging a compliment. All good you might think. Except that those compliments are almost always based on looks. 

Recently I've had "your hair looks so vibrant" (just recoloured), "that lipstick really suits you" and "ooh I love your coat". At a whisky festival last weekend I spoke to a man who said 'Your outfit is really well put together and I love your colouring'. I'd had rather a lot of whisky and momentarily wondered exactly how he knew that I'm so good at colouring in and staying inside the lines. I'm still not entirely sure what he meant.

Now, of course, I am grateful for compliments and they are graciously received, but ones based on my looks make me feel like shouting "HEY! SEE ME! I am more than my hair and my lipstick and this coat!" What's more is that these compliments always seek out the new, the material, the exciting and if it's a normal day, I need my roots done, there's no make-up on my face and that gorgeous coat is nowhere to be seen, there is nary a compliment to be found.

There is a wonderful scene in The Help where Aibileen tells Mae "You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

It's this time of compliment that stays with you. The positive affirmations, the recognition that you are something, you make a difference. I have a fabulous colleague who often excitedly declares "It's Holly Smith!!" when I walk into a room. It's not even really a compliment but it makes me feel like "YEAH! HOT DAMN I AM HOLLY SMITH AND I HAVE GOT THIS!"

So with that in mind, here are some compliments I'd love to see paid more often:
  1. You are so smart, wise, insightful, interesting (any quality you admire)
  2. You handled that perfectly
  3. You are right (because everyone likes being told they are right, and it means so much more if it means admitting you're wrong)
  4. I learn so much from you
  5. Your presence/feedback/blog post had a powerful impact on me
  6. You make me belly-laugh
  7. You're doing a great job
  8. Being around you makes me feel positive/energised/excited
  9. I love the way you carry yourself
  10. I am convinced you can do anything
  11. Life is never boring when you're around
  12. I aspire to be more like you
  13. You ooze confidence
  14. I value you
  15. Your team is one I will always be on
  16. I believe in you
  17. I'm so happy I met you
  18. My life is better with you in it
Next time you stop to tell someone you like their shoes or their bag or their nail-varnish, give them a bit more. See them for who they really are and tell them what that means to you. I promise they'll never forget it and the world will be a better place.

This post is part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge


  1. I really like this post! I personally think we should all try to share compliments more to help us focus on positivity. However, I'd have to argue that when someone compliments a coat, nail varnish etc. they are often really saying: "I like your taste." It's not the same as saying: "I like the way you carry yourself," but it is kind of like saying: "I want to be more like you." Ok, so I get that sometimes people pay those compliments as a way to start a conversation, but when someone genuinely means it that's pretty cool in my book! (On the flip side, I HATE when people tell me they think I am pretty/have nice eyes/pay any other compliment based on my genetics because that's something I have zero control over.)

    1. That's a really great point Katie, how we dress is often a reflection of our personal style and "you've got great taste" is definitely a compliment I'd love to receive!

  2. Honestly, those appearance compliments just make me feel insecure. "Hi, wow I like your shoes" makes me think "Oh god, they've noticed my shoes to the extent that they feel the need to comment. What's wrong with them?" And "you look pretty" makes me think "why are they mocking me?" Because I know what girls are like and because I now realise I clearly have a lot of hang-ups!!! I would love to hear any of those compliments :)

  3. This was a really lovely post :)

    I never know how to take those 'you look nice today' type compliments, they always make me wonder what did I look like yesterday....don't I always look nice?! lol

    You've listed some great suggestions, I'm going to try and use a few next time I pay someone a compliment x

  4. One of the biggest compliments I've had recently is 'you point out people's good traits and skills' (said by my senior at work).

  5. Have to disagree with this, I'm afraid. If somebody takes the time and trouble to say something nice to me, then I'm always grateful and get a little warm glow inside, whatever the subject matter. Compliments are lovely, and I'm not gonna be picky about which ones I want to receive. Just saying. :-)