How to Say Nice Things

Most of us have heard the saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” While saying nice things comes naturally to some people, others have a harder time giving praise or complimenting someone else. If you struggle with this, read our list of suggestions—you’ll learn ways to give sincere feedback that makes someone feel great about themselves. With a little practice, you’ll feel confident saying genuinely kind things to others.

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Look for the good in people or situations.

  1. Instead of focusing on the negative, pay attention to positive things. This is the backbone behind positive parenting techniques, for example, which argue that you reinforce good behavior by noticing it and appreciating it.[1]
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    • For example, instead of waiting for someone to make a mistake before you say something, look for something good. Maybe your child’s been better behaved when you take them to the store, or maybe a chronically-late friend showed up on time to dinner.

[Edit]Make your compliment clear and detailed.

  1. Your comment will feel more personal and you’ll seem more sincere. Make the nice thought meaningful by tailoring it to the person you’re praising. Instead of saying, “You look nice today,” say something like, “I really like that color on you.”[2]
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    • To praise behavior, give a specific example. If you’re a parent, instead of saying, “Nice job at school,” say, “I really liked how well you played with the kids in your class.”

[Edit]Encourage someone who made you feel supported.

  1. Say thank you and let them know you care. It’s easy to focus on compliments for specific actions, but don’t forget that you can just say thank you. Make a meaningful connection by sharing how you feel, too.[3]
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    • For example, tell a family member, “Thank you for always being there for me. I know you’ve always got my back and that helps a lot,” or say to a co-worker, “Thanks for sticking with me on this project. I know I can be hard to work with sometimes, but it’s been nice having your help.”

[Edit]Compliment someone, even if you don’t know them.

  1. Take time to point out something nice to a stranger. It doesn’t have to be a really detailed compliment, just make it genuine. Make eye contact and put on a smile. Then, say something nice about the person’s appearance or something they’ve done. Here are a few examples to get you started:[4]
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    • “That was really kind of you to give up your seat for that woman.”
    • “Those earrings look amazing with your hair color.”
    • “You have the best freckles!”
    • “Thanks for taking my cart back. You’re a lifesaver!”

[Edit]Recognize something great that your partner did.

  1. Deepen your relationship by highlighting things you like about them. If you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to assume that your partner knows you care about them. Make their day by pointing out something that you love about them. You might say:[5]
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    • “You’re so great with hands-on projects.”
    • “I love how you’re outgoing while I’m a bit reserved. We balance each other beautifully!”
    • “Have you noticed how patient you’ve grown?”

[Edit]Comment on someone’s qualities, not just their appearance.

  1. It can be tricky to say something nice about someone physically. The person might be self-conscious about their body or it just might not be appropriate for the setting. Instead of pointing out physical characteristics, highlight something great that they’ve done.[6]
    Say Nice Things Step 6.jpg
    • For example, avoid the generic, “You look great!” Instead, try, “You were really confident in that meeting. Great job keeping everyone engaged.”
    • If you really want to point out that someone looks nice, be specific and kind. Instead of saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” Say something like, “I really like those colors on you. That’s a great outfit.”

[Edit]Mention how the person makes you feel.

  1. Share why you’re impressed, proud, or happy with the person. Make a deeper connection by telling them how something they did or said made you feel. For example, instead of saying, “Great job at the meeting,” say, “Thanks for getting everyone to listen to my ideas at the meeting. You really made me feel supported.”[7]
    Say Nice Things Step 7.jpg
    • If it’s hard for you to share your feelings, keep it simple. Just letting the person know that you appreciate them is huge!
    • Don’t say something that you don’t truly mean. Most people can spot when someone’s being insincere and you may actually damage your relationship if you’re not being genuine.

[Edit]Praise someone’s efforts, not just the outcome.

  1. Highlight the work that someone put in so they know you appreciate them. Whether you’re talking with teammates or a romantic partner, let them know that you value their efforts. Maybe they took a challenging class, worked hard on a project, or tried to improve a relationship. Say something nice about the process and not just what came of it.[8]
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    • For example, say, “I’m really impressed that you reached out to your sister. I know she’s hard to talk to, but you’ve really made an effort.”
    • If you’re a parent, try this with your kids, too. They may not win their game or event, but they’ll love hearing how great it was for them to try.

[Edit]Ask a question so the person accepts the compliment.

  1. Don’t let the person deflect the nice thing you just said. Sometimes, people have a hard time accepting compliments. By asking a question after you say something nice, it helps them accept it and respond so the conversation keeps going.[9]
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    • For example, if you’re a parent, you might say to your child, “How did you know your brother wanted you to share your toys?” or, to your co-worker, “Do you have suggestions for how I could be a more effective speaker?”

[Edit]Avoid tacking a criticism onto the compliment.

  1. Resist the urge to give suggestions or add a qualifier to your comment. No one appreciates getting nice feedback that also has criticism attached. For example, don’t say, “Your hair looks better today than it did yesterday,” or, “You seemed really confident in the meeting, but I think you talked too much.”[10]
    Say Nice Things Step 10.jpg
    • Think about what makes the person feel good about themselves. If your comment might hurt their feelings, don’t say it!

[Edit]Tips

  • Leave a nice comment on someone’s media page instead of just scrolling by. It’s easy to like or love someone’s content, but if you want to make more of an impact, say something nice.
  • Say the nice thing as soon as you think of it. If you wait and say something nice later on, it might not come across as genuine.
  • Appear more genuine by looking the person in the eye. Studies actually show people are more likely to believe what someone’s saying if the person is making direct eye contact.[11]

[Edit]References

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