Ask Scott: Genuine Compliments


Image via Emma Trotter

Dear Scott,

So I have an interesting ‘problem’ if you will.  This might be a weird thing to ask an advice column but here goes.  I have noticed that when I’m talking to people and compliments are given, they usually hinder on looks or beauty.  There’s nothing inherently wrong about this, who doesn’t like being told their hair looks nice?  I just find it strange how that’s what we focus on.  I’ve been trying to find things to say that don’t mention body parts of looks but I’m a little stuck.  Do you have any suggestions?

Compliments of a Stranger

Dear Compliments,

First off, I want to say it is lovely that you are trying to find other things to say when complimenting others that don’t focus on beauty or physical attractiveness.  Those compliments, while nice at times, tend to be shallow and used to fill up space left between small talk.

If you’re looking to give somebody a genuine compliment, there is a gamut of options for you, but perhaps the first thing you should tackle is the way you think about compliments — which is something you’re already doing. By purposely drawing your attention to other aspects of people (such as their artistic talent, or the way animals are calm around them, or how they just seem to get anybody to light up when talking to them) when you wish to say something nice to them, you are readily shifting your complimentary focus from physical aspects to other areas.

Below, I’ve included a list of about 30+ compliments you can give almost anybody, regardless of ethnicity, class, gender, etc.

And you know what?  You’re already a lovely and kind human for looking at a list like this:

  1. You’re the first person I’d look for after an apocalyptic event
  2. You’re the hero Gotham needs
  3. You look like somebody who people look forward to being around
  4. I bet your pets like having you as their human
  5. Even the clouds look happy that you exist
  6. You’re better than a perfectly ripe avocado
  7. People probably talk about how nice you are behind your back
  8. 80% of motorcycle gangs say you’d make for a delightful sidecar
  9. You are an exceptional human who deserves to be happy. Remember that
  10. Live today like you’re Beyonce, because you’re worth it
  11. You are the human equivalent of a warm pair of socks on a winter’s night
  12. You are all the pretty colors
  13. You make people feel good about themselves
  14. You’re really going to make a difference in the world someday
  15. You make people feel important
  16. You inspire me
  17. Even my cat would like you
  18. Your happiness is contagious
  19. You’re always so much fun to be around
  20. Our conversations make my day better
  21. Your presence is appreciated
  22. You’re empowering
  23. You’re strong
  24. I’m so happy you exist
  25. You have a beautiful soul
  26. You matter a lot to me
  27. Your ideas matter
  28. You’re so fun to talk to
  29. I bet you’re good at chess
  30. I hope we know each other for a long time
  31. I’m happy I am alive to meet you;
  32. You have great taste in ______
  33. You are somebody who people enjoy
  34. You matter