Compliments are the kind of currency the world could use more of. In fact, a 2012 study in the journal PLOS One found that getting a compliment is just as great as getting money, in terms of how your brain interprets it. Plus, little compliments mutually benefit those on both the receiving and giving ends. “Compliments can lift moods, improve engagement with tasks, enhance learning, and increase persistence,” University of Melbourne professor Nick Haslam told HuffPost. “Giving compliments is arguably better than receiving them, just as giving gifts or contributing to charity has benefits to the giver.”
With that in mind, we’ve collected a bunch of compliments that will do the recipient—and you—a whole lot of good. All it takes is a few seconds to turn someone’s day around, so check out this list of the best little compliments that go a long way.
“You’re so brave to try to make a change in your life.”
“A really beneficial compliment can be when someone is going through a period in which they are trying to change an aspect of their lives,” says life coach Rachel Wall, founder of Feeling is Healing. During such a time, a person may often “wonder whether [they] are on the right track and if things will ever get any better,” she explains.
By complimenting their bravery, you’re giving them validation and restoring their hope that whatever they’re going through is sure to pay off. It may be just what they need to keep going.
“Your skin is glowing.”
Even though compliments on one’s appearance are out of style, that doesn’t mean you can’t compliment a beautiful complexion. Sarah Payne, co-founder of beauty and wellness site You Glow Gal, says that everyone loves receiving compliments on their skin, regardless of their age or gender. Little compliments like this “can go a long way in boosting someone’s confidence in a society obsessed with aging and beauty,” she explains.
“I love your unique look.”
Being noticed for small, special details can really make a person’s day. Milana Perepyolkina, author of Dark Chocolate for the Soul, recommends “finding something that a person wears that is truly unique to them and tell them you like it.” Doing so is sure to make them “light up,” she says.
“You’ve got great posture.”
One physical feature that too often goes unnoticed is someone’s posture, says Kelsey Zamoyski, a physical therapist at Defy Therapy and Wellness. “I cannot tell you the way our clients’ faces light up when they tell us someone complimented them on their posture,” she says.
Posture often reflects the way someone feels inside, so complimenting someone on theirs is a plus for their physical stature and their psychological health.
“You have great energy.”
Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on the contribution someone makes in your life, but you know it’s huge. If there’s a person in your life—whether it’s a colleague, a family member, or someone at your local coffee shop—whose presence seems to lift everyone’s spirits, let them know they have great energy. Whatever they’re doing is likely second nature to them, so the compliment will come as a pleasant surprise.
“It was great how you did that so well.”
Most compliments can come off as rather vague, so it’s important to let someone know the exact thing you are complimenting them for, says Amanda Ponzar, chief communications and strategy officer for Community Health Charities.
“It’s not just, ‘That was great,’ but rather, ‘Thanks for coming in early to send that urgent email,'” she explains. Knowing that a specific act of theirs has been noticed and is worthy of your gratitude is sure to make the recipient feel truly valued.
“That’s a great idea.”
“One thing that I always make sure to do is thank my employees for coming up with an idea,” says Matthew Ross, chief operating officer at RIZKNOWS. “I usually say something to the effect of, ‘That’s a fantastic idea. You definitely are a creative thinker.'”
In return, Ross says, his employees typically feel appreciated and empowered.
“You are so thoughtful.”
“It’s really important to thank people for remembering key moments in your life and to let them know that you appreciate them being thoughtful,” says Ben Taylor, founder of freelancer advice portal HomeWorkingClub. When someone remembers that you had an interview and asks you how it went, for example, make sure to let them know you notice their conscientiousness.
“You make me feel good.”
“The most important and impactful compliments are the ones letting people know that being around them feels good,” says life coach Iva Ursano, founder of the Amazing Me Movement. Because of its intangibility, however, we often neglect to compliment others on their effects on our mood. If someone always makes you smile, for example, letting them know will make them smile, too!
“You’re a good listener.”
When one of your friends—or even a stranger—takes the time to hear you out, it’s important to let them know how much you appreciate it. In our attention-starved world, lending an ear is a great act of kindness. Sharing your appreciation for their sensitivity and attentiveness is like returning the favor.
“You’ve made an impact on my life.”
Whether it’s a teacher, an employer, or a friend, many people in your life help you out without expecting anything in return. But it doesn’t take much to remind them that they’ve changed your life for the better. By doing so, you’re letting them know how important they are, and that their contribution has been noticed.
“You’ve really got a knack for that.”
Everyone has their own set of unique skills, but sometimes they may not realize how special their talents are. Let someone know that you are in awe of their ability to do X, Y, or Z. In addition to giving them a boost in the moment, it will remind them that they are unique and special individuals.
“You’re great at your job.”
You likely come into contact with dozens of people every week whose job it is to “serve” you, in one form or another. In addition to your usual “thank you,” let everyone from your accountant to your barista know that you appreciate the tremendous job they do. After all, not everyone performs their jobs with the same care and enthusiasm, so it’s important to recognize those who do.
“You’ve made my life easier.”
Does your partner put on the coffee every morning before you wake up? Repay them by complimenting them on how helpful they are! Being told they are having an actual impact on your life is just about the best gift they could get in return.
“You’re a great parent.”
Parenting can sometimes feel like a thankless job. But you have the ability to turn that around. Whether it’s those who raised you, your co-parent, or a friend you think is doing a great job, let someone know they are an excellent parent. It might just be the nicest thing they’ve heard in weeks.
“You’re working really hard.”
Hard work doesn’t always pay off—and if it does, it takes a long time. If you see someone working their butt off, let them know you admire their work ethic. It’ll motivate them to keep going.
“You make me laugh.”
Laughing at your friends’ jokes is great. But telling them you appreciate just how consistently funny they are is huge. People with the ability to put a smile on your face are an excellent positive force in your life. Make them feel appreciated by pointing that out.
“You’re setting a good example.”
Whether it’s an employee who comes into the office 10 minutes early every day, or your child who makes sure the water filter is always full, take the time to let them know that you see them and that they set a great example for those around them. Knowing that one’s behavior influences others is a great feeling.
“I value your opinion.”
One of the best compliments you can give someone is to ask their opinion on something that matters to you. It shows a deep level of trust and respect. What could be a better compliment than that?
“I’m following your lead.”
Another meaningful, subtle way to compliment someone is to take up a habit that you’ve noticed them doing. For example, if you see that your co-worker’s highlighter-based system is highly effective, adopt her method and show her that you’ve done so. Not only will you be complimenting her efficiency and ingenuity, but you’ll be showing her directly what an impact she’s having.
“You make things easier by being so flexible.”
You’re likely to comment on all the people who make your life harder, so why not do the same with those who do the opposite? Take the time to step back and compliment someone for their ability to go with the flow in the face of life’s challenges. After all, if there weren’t people like them in the world, we’d all lose our minds.
“You inspire me.”
If you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life who genuinely pushes you to be your best self, take the time out to let them know. It’s an extremely powerful compliment and one that almost always comes as a surprise.
“You’re a great friend.”
You know that friend or family member you’re thinking of right now who you could say mostly anything on this list to? Great listener? Check! An inspiration? Check! Always making you laugh? Check! Instead of trying to nail each and every point of emphasis, simply tell that person that they are a tremendous friend, and one anybody would be lucky to have. It’ll brighten their spirits and make your bond with them stronger than ever.