Whether it’s regarding an outfit, someone’s home, or a job well done, a good compliment can leave a big—and lasting—impression on its recipient. That’s why knowing how to give a stellar compliment is a skill that we can all stand to benefit from.
Thankfully, we have Myka Meier, a former member of The Queen’s Household and the current etiquette expert behind Beaumont Etiquette to call upon for help. We asked Meier for a few tips on giving better compliments and she had lots to share. Read ahead for five ways to give a memorable compliment, and the best ways to respond to them, too.
1. Give compliments right away
Meier believes compliments come across more genuine when delivered early on. “Comment on something right when you see it and not 10 minutes after,” she says. “Compliments not only usually make people feel good, but it’s also a great ice breaker for conversation.”
2. Focus on the great find, not where it’s from
Adore someone’s outfit so much you want to ask where it’s from? Meier says that’s a big “don’t.” “Compliments like: ‘I love your dress! Where did you buy it?’ forces the person to tell the brand or store, which could reveal how much they spent on it, which often makes people feel uncomfortable to talk about money,” she explains.
3. Never ask someone if something is real
“‘I love that painting! Is it a copy?'” Could be embarrassing for the person who owns it or if something is ‘real’ they may feel awkward as it may reveal approximately how much they spent on it,” Meier explains. So do everyone in the room a favor and avoid questioning something’s authenticity even if you mean it as a compliment.
4. Try to focus your flattery
“Opt for comments like ‘That dress is gorgeous!’ instead of commenting about how it actually looks on the person, i.e. ‘That dress looks so good on your figure!'” Meier says, “People tend to feel awkward when people comment on their bodies. Another example “You look fantastic!” Not: ‘Wow have you lost weight?'”
5. Make your compliment genuine and positive
Above all else, Meier says to remember that a good compliment is one that makes some feel, well, good. “Compliments are intended to evoke positive emotions.” Meier explains, “If you can make someone feel good, then you’ve done your job!”
The 3 Best Ways to Respond to a Compliment
We asked our expert Myka Meier:
1. Always say thank you. “It’s easy if someone compliments you on an outfit to say ‘oh this old thing!’ to deflect attention, but the fact that someone has said something to make you feel good should be mirrored with a thank you!”
2. Reply with a compliment. “Try replying to a compliment in a way that shows you are grateful for the thoughtful gesture by saying ‘Thank you, that’s too kind.'”
3. Avoid sharing TMI. “If someone extends a compliment about something, perhaps a piece of furniture in your home, it’s often easy to reply with the brand or to say that you got it on sale. Try to avoid this unless someone specifically asks you those questions, it may come across as bragging, or a ‘sale’ to one person, but may still be very expensive to another and cause someone to feel uncomfortable.
“The whole point of etiquette is to show kindness and to think of other people’s feelings first!”