I was in school when this little incident happened. One morning, as I got dropped off at the school gate, I saw one of my best friends waiting at the entrance. She was observing me as I exited the car and made my way to her. She looked at me sweetly, and the first thing she said to me was “You know, the way you get out of the car, swinging your legs so elegantly, there is just so much grace in that.” Of course, I had laughed it off then, but today, years later, while I’ve forgotten a lot of things about school, that unexpected compliment has stayed with me, even though I feel miles from feeling any kind of grace in myself.
Sometime last year, while in the middle of a particular transaction, we were having this large all-party meeting, with lots of lawyers, temperamental senior executives, and clients in attendance. I was one of the two people leading the project, and I’d assumed that my colleague would steer the meeting. However, when the meeting started, somehow the onus to kick things off fell on me. I am usually extremely wary of too much attention, so I started off hesitatingly, but managed to get it done.
After the meeting was over, a friend of mine whom I admire deeply and who was also a part of the meeting group, came up to me and said that I handled the whole thing really well and had managed to get the large group to agree on a plan of action despite the crunched timelines. Needless to say, it felt good to be seen and appreciated for something that I am inherently not comfortable with.
There have been plenty of other times when someone has complimented me on what I am wearing, how I am looking, how my skin is glowing etc etc, and yet I find that when I am trying to pull on some internal reserve of strength and belief, it’s not those physical compliments that I remember, but the ones where the person saw something deep in me, and very kindly pointed it out.
Being complimented on our physical appearance sure feels good and will probably never get old. But as I have grown older, I have started valuing the inside more than the outside. Among many other things, I’ve learnt that being seen and complimented for those not-so-obvious bits somehow brings about a greater sense of satisfaction.
So I try to return the favour of looking beyond the obvious, the physical, and finding something deeper to compliment someone about. Their skills, their attitude, their brain, their heart. Those kinda things. All in the hope of making them feel good about themselves even on days when they don’t feel their best physically. In fact, especially for those kind of days*.
*PS – If you’ve been having one of those days yourself, remember to indulge in some self love. You deserve that and more.
13 Ways to Compliment Someone Without Mentioning Their Appearance
I’ve rounded up a few ideas that you can use the next time you’re wondering how to compliment someone beyond the physicality of their being. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but something to get you thinking along these lines.
1| I am so proud of how hard you’re working on yourself.
If someone you know has been working hard on themselves physically, mentally – they’ve been going to their AA meetings, or they’ve been regular with their exercise routine, or they’ve finally made that appointment with a therapist – tell them that you’re proud of their journey and the effort they are putting in.
2| You have a way of calming me down even on my worst days. Thank you so much.
For your 3am friend. The one who will give you the best advice even when it may not be what you want to hear in the moment.
3| I love the way your mind works.
The smarter and more open-minded “your people” are, the smarter and more open-minded you will become. Intelligence, conventional or otherwise, is super sexy. Let them know that you appreciate it.
4| Your recommendations are always the best. I can trust them blindfolded.
For your cool friend who has a pulse on all the latest books/shows/music/movies, and whose recommendations will never let you down. In fact, because of her, you get to be the cool friend to someone else. :P
5| I really admire how you handled yourself in that meeting/situation. I have so much to learn from you.
This is an actual compliment I’ve given one of my work friends. She’s really the best at managing work relationships and somehow manages to make it look absolutely effortless. It can also very well extend to times when someone is managing a difficult situation with a certain kind of ease. Let them know that you’re noticing it all.
6| Thank you for believing in me. Having you by my side matters to me.
We want to be seen for who and what we are, as we are. Having someone in your corner, someone who cheers you on your victories and offers warm words or a hug (or both) on your bad days, is a real privilege. Cherish those people.
7| That pasta/brownie/curry you made is making me feel all the feels. You are truly feeding my soul.
For your friend/partner/parent who has a magical touch in the kitchen, and whose food you just cannot get enough of.
8| Life with you is the best kind of adventure.
You need some people in your life to kick things up a notch for you every once in a while. It could be your best friend, your partner, your child even. Acknowledge that bright, adventurous spirit in them and let them know that you enjoy the excitement they bring in your life.
9| I love how you can make people laugh so easily.
I don’t how they do it, but it sure is a real talent to be able to make people smile and laugh!
10| You are kindness personified. From your actions to your words, there is so much kindness in you.
I think of my maternal grandmom whenever I think of kindness and grace. It’s one of those things I wish I could imbibe more of.
11| You’re the only person who can make me do this.
This being taking off on a road trip at a moment’s notice. This being waking up at 6am on Saturday morning to go for a run. This being making you buy a jewel toned dress when you’re an eternal black wearer. This being whatever you will roll your eyes at, and yet do it lovingly, because the person makes it worth it.
12| This is exactly what I was looking for. You’ve nailed this a 101%!
The next time your tailor/contractor/web designer/interior decorator delivers a final product which surpasses all your expectations, scream it out loud!
13| Your parents/family/children are lucky to have you. You take such good care of them.
Taking care of someone else, in whatever capacity, is a lot of work, and involves so many little things for them. Tell them that you see their effort, their attention to the needs of others, their vigilance.
Like I said, this is not an exhaustive list. I would love to hear some more suggestions from you. Do you have any other ideas on how to compliment someone? What’s the best compliment that you have received which was not about your looks or your appearance?
Image via The Creative Library