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The Tricky Art of Paying a Compliment

28 June, 2015 - 10:20pm by - First Lady | 24 Comments

Article by BR Miss E (tiquette)

Ah, the warm flush of happiness that comes when someone pays you a compliment. It can have you walking on a fluffy cloud of joy, it can stop little annoyances from becoming big dramas, a good compliment can even make you smile for days, even weeks after you’ve received it. 

Compliments are beautiful things, but they do have to be given correctly, because a badly given compliment can have you face-palming for hours, days, weeks - even years if you have to see the person on a regular basis and they’re good at holding a grudge…and ain’t nobody got time for that! So we’ve put together our five top tips for giving a compliment. 

First … be specific. ‘You look nice today’ is all well and good, but you could say that to every second person and after a while it would stop sounding like you mean it. It’s best to find something you really like about the person you want to compliment, be it their hair, their eyes, that they have a beautiful smile and it lights up the room. 

When you go to give the compliment be genuine. Look the person in their eyes when you tell them what you appreciate or like about them. Don’t run away the moment you’ve said it, give the compliment time to sink in and time for them to realise you mean what you say. Oh and if you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If you don’t believe the words coming out of your mouth, neither will they.

Follow the compliment up with a short and sweet explanation. The ability to explain what is it you like about something or someone without going into ‘backhander’ territory is a skill, but it’s one worth learning and practicing, as it adds a whole other element of truth to a compliment. For example, don’t just say ‘that’s a nice blouse’, take it one step further and say ‘that blouse is a great colour, it goes perfectly with your eyes.’ Don’t just say ‘I really appreciate you’ … not only because it sounds awkward but because it’s not telling a person anything, tell them what you appreciate them for, their cooking, their positivity, the fact that they clean the toilets because they know how much you hate doing it. (Note to self, tell The Husband I appreciate him for cleaning the toilets because I hate doing it….)

Don’t follow it up with a backhander. A guy at a club once said to me ‘you’d be really beautiful if you didn’t have your glasses’. Seriously, he did. It happened over a decade ago and I should do a Vogel’s and ‘get over it already’. But, ouch. Is there anything worse than a backhanded compliment? I’m glad you find me beautiful, well, if I wasn’t wearing glasses, which I have to wear, otherwise I’ll end up banging my potentially beautiful face into every power pole and wall in the whole of New Zealand. Sheesh. Also try not to make it about you. Say ‘I love your eyeliner, that cat flick is perfect.’ Don’t follow it up with ‘I wish I could do that, I’m terrible at doing it.’ That makes it all about you, and that compliment isn’t about you, it’s all about them, so keep it that way.

Time it right. There are times that you’ll really want to compliment someone, like you’re in a meeting and you’ve just noticed the amazing bracelet the person you’re meeting with is wearing and you’re bursting to tell them. Stop. Hold onto that compliment. In the middle of a meeting is not the time or place to give a compliment, it can demean the purpose of you being there. However at the end of the meeting when you’re shaking hands and doing your farewells, then would be an appropriate time to throw in a ‘by the way, that’s a fabulous bracelet, those pops of turquoise are beautiful.’ 

Of course while you should never give a compliment in the hopes of being given one back, a person who gives a compliment does receive something in return – and that’s the divine side effect of happiness, because there’s nothing nicer than knowing you’ve made someone’s day. 

So, are you a fan of compliments? Do you wish you could give them but shy away from doing it in case you put a foot in your mouth? Should we make it a BR goal to make the world a happier place by giving a compliment a day? Chat away …


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3rd July, 2015

I love to give compliments and I always hope that the recipient knows that I'm being genuine :-) I always found it hard to accept a compliment but lots of lovely BR ladies taught me how too ;-)

1st July, 2015

I'm always encouraging my girlies to champion and celebrate each other. There's too much competing and comparing which stops us appreciating each other and ourselves to a degree. My motto is 'if I think something nice about someone, why not say it'

1st July, 2015

I really love giving compliments. You can see right away you have made someones day. I work in a pharmacy and see a lot of sad and sick people and I like to try to make them feel a bit better. You just dont know what they are going through.

30th June, 2015

I like giving genuine specific compliments. Probably need to work on my timing a bit but overall people feel appreciated. I personally like compliments to be specific for example if you say I look good, I'd like to know why because then I know what style or makeup looks good on me. I try to do the same for others.

30th June, 2015

I love giving compliments to people when I am out and about, but I am awful at accepting compliments. As for back handed compliments there are some I have held on to for many years lol isnt that horrid haha!

30th June, 2015

I think it's nice to give compliments, especially when they make people feel good.

30th June, 2015

I like to give compliments a lot from how people look to people serving me in shops. One pet hate that I have is when you compliment someone and they negate it by replying "No, (blah, blah, blah)....". I have been known to reply back "Why don't you just say thank you because I really did mean what I said" !! That usually shuts them up and I no longer compliment them in future ha ha

29th June, 2015

What a lovely article ! I love giving complements but do find myself turning them around so that they are about me sometimes- Like "I wish I could do that".. I will be trying to do this less often after reading this!

29th June, 2015

I love paying compliments. I do it all the time. I just think if you think it say it! (as long as it is good of course).

29th June, 2015

I prefer to give compliments than try and receive them. Complimenting a complete stranger is very rewarding because it feels so sincere- I try to do that often.

29th June, 2015

I give compliments often but only if I mean it. I like people to feel good about themselves. I don't often get compliments but I love giving them :)

29th June, 2015

I do love complimenting people and I try to take every opportunity to do so. I equally love getting them :)

29th June, 2015

I love an honest compliment and I only give compliments if I feel they are true. A genuine compliment is really nice and it does make you feel good.

29th June, 2015

I love compliments, giving them mainly. I like to make peoples' days and make people smile and I am genuine when I give them a compliment (mainly women), it's usually about their hair if they have changed colour or style, or something they are wearing, even perfume :)

The one person I DON'T compliment enough is my man :( so that is something I definitely am going to work on

29th June, 2015

I love the warm fuzzies you get from receiving random compliments so I really should be giving them more often. I was out for brunch with my boyfriend yesterday and I commented to him about how gorgeous the waitress's eyelashes were and he convinced me to pluck up the courage to ask her what she uses and tell her that they were gorgeous - it made her smile AND I got to find out her secrets!! Win/ Win! I'm converted to Random Acts of Complimenting. Haha.



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