How (Sincere) Compliments Can Help You Connect with Others

Two adults with long hair work together at table; one says something with smile and gestureAs a mental health therapist, I often work with people who have difficulty making and keeping healthy friendships, as well as other relationships (coworkers, family members, partners, and the list goes on and on). Among the struggles I often hear is not knowing how to sincerely connect with someone.

One way to connect is by giving sincere compliments.

Compliments are a great way to connect because they make both the giver and the recipient of the compliment feel good. People enjoy being around other pleasant people, so if you make someone feel good, that person may be more likely to want to spend more time around and with you.

It might sound simple on the surface, but the people I work with in therapy sometimes struggle with how to give sincere compliments to others. I offer the following four tips to keep in mind:

1. Be Genuine

Don’t give a compliment if you don’t mean it. If you tell someone you enjoy something when in reality it disgusts you, and they find out later, it may hurt your ability to be trusted or be taken seriously in the future. You don’t want to be considered a liar, no matter how good your intentions are. Genuine behavior is generally appreciated, and people may be more likely to respect what you say if you truly mean it.

2. Look for the Good

People enjoy hearing positive feedback. By focusing on the good, or the benefit, of someone’s personality, skill, interest, or other area you wish to compliment, you make it easier for a receptive response. If you find it difficult to compliment someone sincerely in a certain area, try looking at the situation from their perspective and what may have influenced their choices.

3. Focus on Your Feelings

When you focus on the pleasant feeling the recipient of your compliment feels, it feels good to them as well. When someone brings joy, love, or another pleasant emotion to someone else, it often makes them feel that same emotion in return.

4. Keep It Simple

Keeping your compliments simple and to a minimum may help strengthen your connection to the other person. When you give too many compliments, or engage in giving grandiose, complicated compliments, it can feel uncomfortable and a little off-putting. Keep your compliments to one to three at a time. In these situations, less is often more.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offers an entire module focus on learning skills to improve one’s interpersonal effectiveness (the way one communicates and connects with others). One of the skill sets in this module is a great way to help people learn how to give sincere compliments. To remember these skills, DBT uses the acronym GIVE:

  • Gentle: Have a soft, gentle approach to your tone, word choice, and attitude.
  • Interested: Be genuinely interested in the person and the content of your conversation.
  • Validate: Think about and let the other person know their experience is real and understandable, even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Easygoing: Be flexible and have an easygoing manner.

An example of a sincere compliment using the GIVE formula is as follows:

  • Gentle: “You’re a good friend.”
  • Interested: “I really appreciated your help with my project the other day.”
  • Validate: “It wasn’t easy, but we got through it. Your helpfulness is really great!”
  • Easygoing: “Thanks, buddy.”

I’d love to hear your experiences giving and receiving compliments. Please share your most appreciated compliments below and how it felt to give or receive them.

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Mallory Grimste, LCSW, therapist in Woodbridge, Connecticut

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Carson

    Carson

    February 22nd, 2017 at 8:13 AM

    It is so important to be real and genuine versus being fake. I can spot a fake compliment a million miles away and I tell you if you are like me I would just rather have no compliment at all than to get something from you that I know you don’t truly believe. It is demeaning and belittling and it just needs to stop.

  • Mallory Grimste, LCSW

    Mallory Grimste, LCSW

    February 23rd, 2017 at 6:32 AM

    So true Carson! My teen clients know I’m all about being genuine and expect them to be also. They have teased me about how much they find me saying “Let’s be real…” Haha!

  • mills

    mills

    February 23rd, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    I have never been quite sure why there are so many people who believe that they can hide behind their lies when to most of us the truth is so blatantly evident.’ You might try to hide your reality behind fake smiles and most of the time it isn’t that hard to figure out the insincerity is there overshadowing everything else. You just have to be willing to keep your eyes open to that and not get snowed by a con.

  • Carson

    Carson

    February 23rd, 2017 at 7:28 AM

    But I am sure that is probably why you have a good rapport with them because they know they won’t get any BS from you and they in turn won’t give that to you.

  • Blaise

    Blaise

    February 24th, 2017 at 10:46 AM

    Everyone loves to hear a compliment and sometimes depending on your state of mind you are going to be willing to accept it no matter the sincerity level just because we ll from time to time need to have someone say something nice or positive about us. It is human nature, and truthfully I would rather believe that people are always sincere when giving out a compliment and that there is no other motive behind it.

  • Janeen

    Janeen

    February 25th, 2017 at 6:14 PM

    I like to let others know that what they have contributed is valuable and that I appreciate the work that they have put into something . I want them to know that I couldn’t have done what was accomplished without them. I think that when you validate others and let them know that they have done a great job then of course they will want to do more the next time. It is not a back handed way to get someone to do more work but don’t you do more when you know that what you are doing is actually not going unnoticed by other people? I do, and I want my coworkers and employees to do the same.

  • Bella

    Bella

    February 26th, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    Compliments will get u everywhere in my book

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