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The Lost Art Of Giving A Great Compliment – And How To Do It Right!

I’m kind of a movie-fanatic. Anyone who comes to my live events will know that I love dissecting even the tiniest moments from films to draw profound lessons.

And today, I want to use one my favourite film moments to ask you this question: How good are you at giving compliments?

The art of giving a great compliment is a tragically under-appreciated skill. Most people use compliments as meaningless flattery, or they just use generic phrases like “you’re so sweet”, “you’re really great” or “thanks, you’re so lovely”. These phrases, while they are all nice to hear, are completely forgettable.

Think of the compliments you have cherished from people you love in life. Usually it’s because they told you something about yourself and you just thought: they totally understand me. Or when someone told you something about yourself that you weren’t even aware of.

Take a look at the video below to see one of the greatest on-screen compliments ever uttered. It’s from the film As Good As It Gets.

It’s a breathtaking moment. Melvin (Jack Nicholson) finally tells Carol (Helen Hunt) what makes her the greatest woman on earth to him.

We all go through life never really telling people the best things about them. This might be with our friends, parents, and our love lives. What makes someone else feel special (and see us as special), is when they feel like we understand them on a level that no-one else does. Even if when you’re dating a guy you say “I really like the way you’re so considerate of other people. You always want everyone to feel good before yourself. I really admire that about you.”

Compliments like these (as long as they are true!) will resonate with someone, because they see that you are someone who notices the small actions they do everyday.

So my tip for today is to give better compliments. And for that you’re going to need some principles for doing it right. So here are three:

1. Always be specific

Just telling someone they are sexy is okay, but it’s kind of generic and impersonal. Tell them why they are sexy, or kind, or great fun, or whatever it is you want to say about them. If you want to tell a guy he is cute, tell him something specific about his looks, like “I love the little dimples on your cheeks when you smile.”

2. Focus on the little things

Compliments don’t have to be huge. The most meaningful ones can come from tiny things we do everyday. Maybe it’s saying “You make the best coffee in the world”, or “I love talking to you over breakfast. You always make me feel like I can really be myself around you.”

3. Make sure they are accurate

Don’t pull compliments out of thin air. Really think about the person you are talking to and what makes them great. Even if it’s someone you’ve known for a few weeks, you could just say what makes them so fun to be around. Is it their spontaneity, their kindness, their curiosity about the world?

What are some of the compliments that have stuck with you over the years? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!


If you haven’t yet signed up to my home study programme ‘The Man Myth’, I really encourage you to check it out. The holidays will soon arrive, and wouldn’t it be great if you had someone to share them with!? If you start the programme now, you’ll be just in time! Check it out here.

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55 Replies to “The Lost Art Of Giving A Great Compliment – And How To Do It Right!”

  • A person once told me that talking was not necessary, because my eyes could talk. That is the only compliment that has stayed with me through the years.
    Thank you for this amazing entry. I’ll try these tips to tell those that are caring a lot about me how grateful I am.

  • Hi Matt,
    I have this friend called Ross, we banter, call each other vain and other rubbish. Anyway I gave him a compliment the other day and when I went to cinema with him saturday he was awfully weird and very difficult to talk to and family have said that maybe he thought I fancied him. Yes, he’s attractive but I wouldn’t go out with him and I’m worried he’s got the wrong idea and is trying to push me away. I said this: “you know I’m very glad you spoke to me that day, you’re too kind to me Rossatron, thank you. You’re an awesome dude :)”….I don’t know how he could that could be coming on strong. Any advice? x

  • The MOST AMAZING compliment I ever got from a guy was “I love the way you throw back your head when you laugh.” (I never realized that I was doing that until he told me!)

  • I was reading down the blog and i just had to comment on this one. the greatest compliment i have ever received was not even a compliment exactly; a guy looked at me in the eyes and told me they were green. everyone,including myself, always thought they were brown to olive-hued at most. but after closer examination we concluded he was right! also he had once told me that had never seen eyes that sparkled more than mine.. i guess he owned the art of complementing :p

  • I just ran across this great article and wanted to share because compliments can change lives. I have been blessed with wonderful people in my life that have truly lifted me up with words.

    A very memorable compliment i received was based in feeling, not words. A gentleman in the grocery store approached me, leaned in towards me in a friendly manner and said, “you are truly beautiful”. Although people have said you hot or pretty at other times, this man’s genuine smile and spirit struck me so differently. It was like he was speaking about my soul and not my looks, so very moving.

    My most memorable compliment came from a retiring coworker: “I really hope the person who gets to spend every day with you knows how truly blessed he is”…. It opened up my heart and eyes… that one was a life changer.

  • One simple way to tell if an article is good: it makes you start thinking ;)
    I definitely need to learn and be better at giving compliments. Thank you for reminding me :)

    The most amazing compliment I ever got: he told me that he felt relaxed in my company.
    Let me add the back story: he has Aspbergers. He can’t stand being around people. If that’s not the biggest compliment someone with Aspbergers can give, than I don’t know what :)

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