“I really love your… thingy!” Awkward. We’ve all been there: You want to give someone a genuine compliment and yet the thing that comes out of your mouth is, at best, super weird, and at worst, so off-putting your neighbor/co-worker/child’s friend’s parent avoids you from now on.
Don’t give up on giving compliments though—they’re great for both giver and receiver! Getting a compliment feels just as good as getting cash, according to one study published in PLOS One. And you benefit too. Complimenting others makes you feel instantly happier too, boosting your mood and increasing your confidence, according to separate research.
To help you go beyond the basic “you look nice” and “you’re the best” (and avoid things like “I used to only go after pretty girls so now I’m looking for the nice ones”), we’ve come up with 52 fool-proof compliments, guaranteed to bring a smile to their face, and yours!
For a stranger whose day you’d like to brighten
- “That is a fabulous purse.” Commenting on a stranger’s body really isn’t a good idea—their weight, height, or bra size isn’t any of your business. But complimenting something they personally chose, like their jewelry or shoes, that says something about their style or personality, is almost always welcome.
- “You have such a kind smile.” The one exception to the no-commenting-on-people’s-bodies rule? Their smile. As long as you’re not commanding them to smile or being creepy (avoid things like saying how plump their lips are), it will likely make them smile even more.
- “I appreciate how patient you were with that child.” Sometimes just being a person in public is enough to fray your last nerve and seeing someone go out of their way to accommodate another—like a child kicking a seat or an elderly person counting out exact change—is worthy of recognition, even if it’s just a smile and a nod.
- “I’m so glad we met!” Even if you just exchanged polite greetings in the check-out lane of the grocery store, letting someone know that they made you feel happy is an instant way to brighten both your days.
- “You’re really good at that.” Whether it’s the barber cutting your hair, the hotel clerk, or an instructor at your gym, let people know that you notice how much heart and talent they put into their work. They’re doing it because they want to make a difference (and earn a paycheck but helping others is the icing on the $$ cake).
- “That’s the best thing I’ve heard all day!” Did a child tell you a joke? Did a fellow bus passenger share an interesting piece of news? Did a coworker tell you about her dog having puppies? The wonderful thing about this compliment is that applies to so many different people and situations!
For the people who make getting through your workday bearable
- “Loved your input in the last meeting, you have such creative ideas.” This shows that not only were you paying attention at the meeting but that you were paying attention to what they said. Bonus points if you can name one of their ideas you really liked. Check out the 18 nicest things people have ever been told.
- “Things run so much more smoothly when you’re here.” Who doesn’t like to know that their work is noticed and actually making things better? A little compliment like this can make a person wake up with a little more pep the next morning.
- “You deserve that promotion, you worked so hard on that project.” Watching someone else succeed, especially if it’s a goal you were trying to reach too, can inspire some pretty painful feelings. But acknowledging your coworker’s success and what they did to achieve it won’t just make them happy, it will help smooth over any jealousy you’re still harboring.
- “You’ve got great leadership skills.” It’s one thing to be good at your job, it’s entirely another to be good at your job and to be able to help others be good at theirs as well.
- “I hide my good chocolate in the bag of broccoli in the freezer.” There are some coworkers you’d trust with your computer password or your office key but only a select few get to know where you hide the good treats!
For the amazing people who gave you life (and a trip to Disneyland)
- “I love my nose—which was your nose first!” The great thing about complimenting your parent’s kid (you!) is that you’re also complimenting them. It’s a feel-good two-fer! Need more ideas? Try one of the 13 best compliments you can give a parent.
- “You inspire me to try new things.” Children who feel secure with their parents will feel more secure exploring the world—and that’s just as true for adults as it is toddlers. Acknowledge everything your mom and dad have done to give you wings.
- “Thanks for birthing me (or adopting me). Tell me the story again!” Mothers especially love to relive the glorious (and often harrowing moment) they first met their sweet baby—not to mention it’s often one of the hardest and most defining experiences of their lives. Asking to hear all about it will make their whole day.
- “Your hugs feel like bubble wrap—protective and fun to squeeze.” Depending on how puberty treated you, you may or may not be bigger than your own parents now but regardless of size, they probably still want to wrap you in a big bear hug every time they see you. You’ll always be their kid, no matter how adult you are!
- “I see how hard you work for our family.” Dads and moms sacrifice a lot to take care of their kids and so much of that work happens behind the scenes. Once you’re all grown up—or even a parent yourself—you can see how much time, money, and love they put into you.
- “You are such a great example to me.” Every parent hopes to leave a positive legacy for their children but often all they hear about are the ways they failed. Telling them you want to be just like them is the ultimate compliment a parent can hear!
- “I’m naming my baby after you.” OK, so this is a compliment you can really only use once (if that) but is there any higher compliment than naming a brand-new human being after your favorite older human?
For the child you love so much you let them sneeze in your face
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
- “You are good enough.” Kids desperately want to please their parents and so, from toddlers to teens, they need to hear that you love them more than you love their potential. Just make sure you avoid these “compliments” we need to seriously stop giving kids.
- “You are the most perfect you there is.” As a parent, you’re in charge of teaching your kid everything they need to know about the world but sometimes that can feel like a laundry list of changes you want. Take time to remind your sweet kiddo that they are unique and wonderful and you love them, quirks and all.
- “I didn’t think I could love Harry Potter more—that is, until I read it with you.” Experiencing the world through your child’s eyes is like seeing everything like brand new. Let them know how exciting it is to do these things with them.
- “My heart fills with bubbles every time I see you.” Every child, regardless of age, looks to see if their parents’ eyes light up when they enter a room. Make sure your kid knows that even if you’re not happy at that exact moment, you’re always happy to see them.
- “This ramen is the best meal I’ve ever had.” OK, so taste-wise, your child’s fledgling attempts at cooking probably aren’t the best you’ve ever had. But love makes everything taste better and they’ve got enough of that seasoning to be a 5-star chef.
- “You are one of the bravest people I know.” It’s easy to forget as an adult but being a kid takes a lot of bravery! Recognizing this gives them permission to feel a bit nervous sometimes but also shows that you appreciate how hard they’re trying.
- “You’re my phone wallpaper.” Children love nothing more than to have you take their picture and then love it so much that you put it as your wallpaper or lock screen.
- “You have great taste in music.” Even if you don’t love actually your child’s music, you love the fact that they’re developing into a real person who has passionate opinions about things beyond candy and nightlights.
For the friend who was there for you through the good, the bad, and that time in high school that will never be mentioned again
- “You glow.” There’s beautiful and then there’s beauty that radiates out from the inside. Your best friend needs to know when you can see their soul shining through.
- “I set your text notification to a special tone.” Technology gets a bad rap for driving people apart but it can also show how much you care about them—like when you set a special sound for their incoming calls and messages. It shows that their contact is more important than almost everyone else’s!
- “I can always count on you.” Being there for you when you need them is a best friend’s job but it’s one they don’t see as a chore. Let them know how grateful you are for their reliability and care.
- “You are a gift to this world.” Your world is a better place because your friend is in it, right? Let them know!
- “Talking to you is the best part of my day (after eating cookie dough).” There’s not much that’s better than eating chocolate-chip cookie dough off a spoon but if there is something, it’s definitely a funny text or an excited call from your best friend!
- “You’re the only one who really gets me.” Seriously, does anyone besides your best friend know that you like to smell your own belly button lint, that you once wore your underwear backward all day, what type of toilet paper you prefer, and how you pee every time you sneeze—and love you all the more for it?
- “If all I get done today is hanging out with you, it’s been a good day.” Work can wait. You’ve got movies to dissect, people to talk about, cake to eat, and jokes to laugh at.
For someone you’re hoping will see you as relationship material
- “I’d show you my childhood secret handshake.” You and your second-grade best friend worked so hard to perfect the ultimate secret handshake and you vowed you’d never share it with anyone—that is until you met this amazing person who is totally worth a high-five-salmon-slap-double-clap. Pro tip: Make sure you’re avoiding these 16 compliments that are actually insults.
- “You have such unusual eyes!” People love to be seen as unique and fortunately eyes are like snowflakes—no two are alike! So you’ll definitely be able to find something interesting and beautiful in their eye color or pattern and the eye contact will strengthen your bond.
- “Your laugh reminds me of glitter!” Laughing together is one of the best ways to increase other good feelings too (including the kind that leads to feeling each other, ahem). Comparing their laugh to something fun and memorable shows that it’s not just a hollow compliment and, if done right, gives you another thing to laugh about. It doesn’t have to make a lot of sense or even be a sound—other suggestions include chocolate, balloons, a new book, a cozy fire, or snow falling.
- “My favorite color? Whatever you’re wearing.” Sometimes you don’t realize how much you like something until you see someone you adore wearing it. Turn this slightly cheesy pickup line into a true compliment by pointing out how the color compliments their hair, skin, or other feature you find beautiful.
- “You light up a room like a sparkler.” Ballroom or boardroom, some people add a little spark no matter where they are. Point out how their presence brings you joy and watch them light up even more. Not sure? Try these tips to give better compliments.
- “I love how kids just love you.” Dogs and children are great judges of character and can often see through a fake act. It’s not a perfect test of course (especially if the person happens to carry candy or beef jerky in their pocket) but the fact that toddlers or your pup are drawn to someone is never a bad sign!
- “I would totally win trivia night with you.” Everyone is an expert in something weird. Acknowledge their talent for always knowing a celebrity’s real name or being able to name every John Grisham novel or all the French swear words.
- “The only thing better than hanging out with you would be hanging out with a talking dog.” And since life isn’t a cartoon movie, you’re the best!
- “I wouldn’t change my phone passcode if you happened to see it.” Nothing says trust like sharing the password to unlock your phone or get into your email. OK, so you might not actually be ready to give them your passwords but if they so happened to see it you’d let it ride.
For the person you think is adorable even after they’ve thrown up
- “I need you to be a better me.” Relationship math is different than the schoolbook kind and when you’re with someone you really love. 1 + 1 = a lot more than two.
- “Every year I love you more.” Routine and apathy are a death knell for a relationship, so keep things fresh by reminding your loved one of not just how much you love them but how that love has grown as you’ve gotten to know them better.
- “Your outside is gorgeous but it’s your inside that is truly stunning.” External beauty only captures hearts for a moment—it’s what’s on the inside that relationships are built on.
- “You’re perfectly imperfect.” Perfection is boring. Not to mention unattainable. Loving the flaws and the features lets your loved one know that you see them for who they really are—and love them all the more for it.
- “You are so beautiful to me.” Everyone (except, perhaps, some celebrities) accepts the basic fact that as we age we get less conventionally attractive. But just because your significant other isn’t turning heads on the street quite as much these days doesn’t mean they still don’t turn yours! Remind them of how beautiful or handsome they are.
- “You’re my muse.” When you were dating you probably took a lot of cues from each other but that shouldn’t stop just because the initial rush of romance has cooled. Telling your loved one how much they inspire you is a great way to keep the spark going.
- “Seeing you is the best part of my day.” Nothing brightens a bad day like coming home to someone who is genuinely happy to see you. Do you know these 11 phrases that used to be insults but are now compliments?
- “You’re weird like I’m weird.” Quirky socks, comic fandoms, movie quotes, ’80s songs, and Nicholas Cage memes can totally form the bedrock of a really solid relationship. Embrace the weird!
- “You make laundry fun.” Chores are called chores for a reason. So if someone makes even dishes or mopping entertaining then you know they’re a real gem. For more, check out 10 little compliments you can give every day.