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Everyone loves receiving genuine compliments. Did you know that giving compliments can make you feel just as good? Research has shown that demonstrating kindness towards others releases oxytocin in the brain, a “feel-good” hormone that leads to deeper feelings of social bonding.
Compliments are one of the simplest ways to make others feel appreciated and “seen.” Whether you’re trying to woo a potential love interest or simply want to spread positivity amongst your friends and colleagues, compliments are one of the best tools for igniting joy in yourself and others.
Here are a few quick tips for improving your compliment-giving skills.
Though actively seeking to praise others is admirable, it’s important to stick to sincere compliments. Complimenting others for the wrong reasons simply won’t be as effective. Don’t praise someone just for the sake of politeness, to fill a gap in a conversation, or to smooth over tension in a relationship. Most of us can tell when a compliment is insincere. If you can’t offer a genuine compliment at the moment, save your praise for another time.
Broad compliments may seem generous, but they can be awkward to receive and respond to. Praising someone’s intelligence or looks, for instance, may leave them feeling uncomfortable and unsure of what to say. Instead of commenting on someone’s intelligence, for instance, focus on praising something that they’ve done. Perhaps your smart friend recently wrote and published an article that you really enjoyed reading, or helped you resolve a complicated computer problem you were having. Saying something like, “Wow, I’m really impressed with your technical problem-solving skills! You did some great work there!” shows your genuine appreciation for their intellect and assistance. Focusing in on something specific is crucial to paying an excellent compliment.
Keep it Concise
When truly impressed with someone or something, it’s easy to get carried away with expressing your admiration. Unfortunately, singing someone’s praises for too long can actually dilute the message of your compliment. If your praise begins bordering on worship, the one receiving your compliments will likely feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to respond. Offering too many compliments may make you appear disingenuous, or may make the recipient suspicious of your intentions in lavishing unending flatteries upon them. Even if you mean well, your commendations will likely lose their meaning when offered in bulk, defeating the purpose of offering a compliment in the first place!
Instead of rambling, focus on meaningfully praising one or two traits or behaviors that you genuinely cherish. As a result, the person receiving your compliment will be better able to process your words and can respond with grace and dignity.
Compliment Others Frequently
Most of us take others for granted more often than we’d care to admit! In our closest relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners, we often focus on the negatives and fail to see the things that others are doing well. Instead of occasionally lavishing praise on those you care about, try offering sincere compliments on a daily basis. Make a genuine effort to focus on the positives. Does a good friend of yours frequently call or write to ask how you’re doing? Let them know that you sincerely appreciate the fact that they care about you. Tell them that they’re a good friend, and that you appreciate their kind heart. Extend your compliments to others outside of your immediate social circle, too. Does a certain fast food worker always serve you with a warm greeting and a friendly smile? Consider telling them how much you appreciate their positive energy, and perhaps offer them a small tip. All of us know how it feels to have our efforts taken for granted. Strive to offer compliments throughout the course of your day. As you do, you’ll likely feel your mindset shift towards a more positive world-view, boosting your mood and improving the way that you feel.
Adapt to Compliment-Resistant Individuals
Most of us likely know someone who simply can’t accept compliments. Often, individuals who struggle with accepting praise struggle with low self-esteem. Compliments may conflict with these individuals’ views of themselves, making it nearly impossible for them to perceive praise as genuine and true.
Instead of fighting to get such individuals to accept your compliments, consider changing your approach. One study suggests that individuals who struggle with trust and compliment-acceptance tend to be more accepting of others simply expressing genuine interest in their lives. If you have a friend or partner who struggles with trust and self-esteem, consider approaching them in this way instead. Simply asking “How are you doing?” or “How was your day?” tends to make such individuals feel more cared-for. By genuinely listening to your conversational partner and engaging with them, you can make them feel valued without explicitly complimenting them or their behavior.
Reflect on Your Ability to Receive Compliments
Receiving compliments with grace can be just as challenging as offering sincere praise. The next time you receive a compliment from someone, consider how you respond. Many of us falsely feel that accepting a compliment equates to being egotistical or conceited. This, however, is far from the case. In fact, denying a compliment or shrugging it off is, ultimately, a way of denying someone’s opinion about you. In this way, it’s actually similar to the refusal of a gift. You wouldn’t refuse a present from someone, would you? If someone is offering you genuine praise, strive to accept it with grace. Don’t dismiss your efforts or refuse to accept the praise. Simply saying “Thank you! I really appreciate you saying that!” will work in nearly every situation. By practicing accepting compliments with a smile, you can become just as skillful at receiving compliments as you are at giving them.
Spreading happiness doesn’t require buying expensive gifts or planning out grand gestures. Sometimes, simply acknowledging the positive traits we see in someone can be enough to brighten their day, or even change the way they feel about themselves.
The next time you’re looking to put a smile on someone’s face, try paying them a simple compliment. With luck, you’ll both be left smiling and feeling happy!