How to Give Heartfelt Praise, Why it’s so Important, 12 Example Compliments & More!

Happy Woman receiving compliment

Want an easy way to give someone a boost and show gratitude for their presence in your life? Show them your appreciation with a heartfelt and specific compliment.

In this article we’re taking a closer look at ‘compliments’—what not to do, how to give them well with tips and examples—and why it might just be very important right now…

What’s in this Article

Why are compliments so needed right now?

Have you watched The Social Network? It’s a documentary on Netflix, that shows you how deliberately addictive Social Media platforms are. We all crave connection, and these platforms are deliberately designed to make us spend as long as possible on them—and feel like we’re getting the attention we need, even though the platforms know full well it’s unhealthy.

It seems we are not getting enough validation in our world—and are instead seeking it online…

Take a moment to imagine a world where everyone regularly makes an effort to genuinely appreciate each other. How would you feel? How do you think others would feel? Is it possible we wouldn’t be so obsessed with getting likes and comments on our Social Media posts?

We are all missing attention and connection from important people in our lives.

Putting Fierce Kindness into Action

So, one way to put Fierce Kindness into action is to give the people around you validation through genuine praise or a compliment. It takes just a teeny bit more effort than a generic “well done” and makes a huge difference! And it doesn’t even need to be done in person—you can do it over a Zoom meeting, phone or video call.

Let’s start with three types of praise to be avoided…

 3 Types of Praise to Avoid

1) Flattery

Mae West

Mae West

Mae West said, “Flattery will get you everywhere”. But while flattery may work with some people—especially those with less well-tuned #$%*! meters, it’s hollow and we know it. So, even if flattery works to make someone else feel better it makes us feel bad!

All too often flattery simply irritates. Avoid.

2) Faint Praise

There is an English idiom: damning someone with faint praise. This means offering half-hearted or meaningless praise. It’s a kind of valueless praise that suggests we can think of nothing better to say. And it also implies there’s something ‘bad’ we can’t quite bring ourselves to share; therefore we have ‘damned them’.

Some examples:

  • It’s Okayyyyy…
  • Fred is well-intentioned and has some legitimate concerns.
  • Sarah’s new haircut definitely looks different.
  • Oh yes, I like Ursula’s new car, it’s not a bad colour and the seats are quite comfortable.

3) Factual Praise

How dull, to only be praised with facts. Just like faint praise, it suggests there isn’t anything more interesting or relevant to share.

And sticking to those facts can be another way of avoiding sharing other, less palatable information about someone. So factual praise can also be bad for the praiser – who may appear unimaginative or deceptive. Some examples:

  • I recommend Doug as a tenant, he always paid his rent on time.
  • Sarah, wow, you have a new short haircut.
  • Bill, yes, he can touch-type at 65 WPM (words per minute) and knows how to fix the photocopier.

So. Far better than flattery, faint or factual praise is giving a genuine compliment…

How Do You Give Heartfelt Praise?

We all know that a compliment can lift our spirits and make our day. But how do you give a heartfelt compliment?

Well, instead of saying “I really like your new haircut”, try “I love your new haircut, it makes you look hip and creative!” Or instead of saying, “Good job!” try, “You did a great job of handling that rowdy meeting with grace and poise!”

5 Tips to Give Heartfelt PraiseHappy Woman for What Makes Your Heart Sing Exercise Article with PDF
  1. Be as specific as you can. Let them know exactly what it was they did, or the quality they have, that was special – and why that’s important.
  2. The best heartfelt praise includes feeling words and comes from the heart! Describe how the person (or their actions) makes you feel.
  3. Include superlatives (but only) where appropriate. These are words that suggest a very high quality like the best, outstanding, incredible, phenomenal!
  4. Less common – or unusual – words can also work really well. This makes the praise more unique and personal.
  5. But most important is being genuine – and expressing how and why you value the person being praised.

12 Great Example Compliments

While making it personal and heartfelt is important as already mentioned, here are some more general ideas to get you started. Then use the 5 Tips for Heartfelt Praise above to make it really special!

Use these example compliments with colleagues, loved ones or friends – and spread a little love and happiness.

  1. I/My friends/family love spending time with you. Knowing that we’re good company leaves us feeling truly valued. And when your friends and/or family enjoy spending time with us, we feel like we belong too. Awesome!
  2. I was hoping that would be you! Let someone know you’re not only happy to see them, but that you were HOPING it was them!
  3. I really like who I am when I’m around you! In other words, you’re saying, “You make me feel good about myself.” Fantastic!
  4. I love it when you say (weird) things like that! What you’re saying is you’re unique and I love it! But use this compliment with care and only when you’re 100% sure you mean it! – or it could backfire.
  5. I love having you in my life. I’m so glad you’re my friend/mom/dad/partner/child. Great to say any time…
  6. I was just thinking about you. In this busy world, who wouldn’t want to know we’re in someone’s thoughts? We feel valued, interesting and cared for. YOU were just thinking about ME? Awesome!
  7. _____ (insert their name here), you can handle this. Show you trust that someone knows what to do. Who wouldn’t want to know that you think they’re capable, intelligent and strong?
  8. Take your time, _____ (insert their name here). When you tell someone to take their time (and mean it!), you’re giving them permission to be. You’re trusting them and you’re also giving them breathing space. I LOVE to hear this one.
  9. I really admire the way you handled _____.” You were _____ (eg. confident, generous and insightful).” Complimenting someone’s integrity, skills and wisdom is empowering for EVERYone to hear.
  10. _______ (insert their name here) I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. We all want to be needed, valued and trusted.
  11. You did such a great job _____ (use their name here). I particularly loved the way you _____. You noticed what I did, thought I did a good job and I know what you really liked about it. Thank-you so much! Now I feel competent, strong and that you really value me!
  12. You are a delight to be around! Need I say more?
3 Top Tips to Ensure your Compliment Sticks
  1. 100% mean your compliment (or don’t bother!). We all have #$%*! meters. When you say something glibly (quickly and without being sincere) it can hurt more than it helps. Instead, make the effort to think about that person and really mean what you say.
  2. Look the person in the eyes. Nothing says sincerity like eye contact.
  3. Use the person’s name. Often we’re around someone so much, or we’re so familiar with them, that we forget to use that all important word – their name!

And Remember YOU!

When YOU receive a compliment, ditch phrases like “Oh, it was nothing”“no big deal”“well I did X, but I didn’t do Y”.

Instead learn to accept praise gracefully with healthy pride and gratitude! Share your feelings about your accomplishments, and acknowledge the work or skill that went into it. This could sound like:

  • “Thanks! I’m glad you noticed. I worked hard on that project.”
  • “Thank-you. I’m really proud of how the plan came together!”
  • “Thanks! I’m grateful for this new opportunity to expand my business and share my work with even more clients.”

Because when we brush off a compliment, we’re also brushing off that person…

Finally, did you know there is an ideal ratio of praise to criticism?

Whether it’s in the workplace – or in personal relationships – and depending on which study you believe, there’s an ideal ratio of praise (or compliments) to criticism.

This means to keep your partner, employees, co-workers or loved ones happy make sure that you give 5-7 compliments for every 1 criticism…

Here’s one write up on this topic from Harvard Business Review.


Whether you make an effort with your partner, colleague, loved one or a friend, I guarantee that giving more compliments will not only boost your relationships—but it’ll give you a boost too!

Giving genuine and heartfelt compliments is a fun and easy way to be make a difference in the world. Go ahead and make someone’s day—spread the love!

Your Fierce Kindness Challenge:Fierce Kindness Logo


  • Give one heartfelt compliment a day for one week to anyone!
  • And if you enjoy it, keep going for a month—or until it becomes a habit.
Change the world. Start with you!

What’s the best compliment you’ve received? Comment below!

If you liked this article, you may also like:

Image of Happy Woman Receiving Compliment! by Koldunova Anna via Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.