If you’re going to be generous with your friends, the easiest way you can do so is with a sincere compliment.
After all, compliments are totally free, and they’re a way of making your friends feel not only flattered, but also seen. That is, when the compliment you’re giving is actually a compliment, defined here as something that makes your friend feel good—instead of second-guessing what exactly you may have meant by it.
While backhanded compliments are the second language of Regina George and Blair Waldorf, you may not even realize that the words of praise you’re giving your friends aren’t exactly ideal. Have you ever casually tossed out one of these compliments to your friends? Here’s a good reason to swap these words out for others.
It’s natural to gush over a friend’s hairstyle if it’s something different from what they typically wear. However, if you go a little too hard with the compliments, you may not realize that what you’re unintentionally saying is their regular style isn’t your ideal. Your friend may want to switch up their style on a special occasion—or just because it’s fun—but that’s on them. Don’t accidentally diss the ‘do they wear every other day, especially because that look is probably a whole lot easier to pull off before school at 7 a.m.!
So, your friend who swears by leggings and hoodies showed up in a super cute dress. You probably don’t mean for this comment to come across like the accusatory question it is, but that’s sort of what it sounds like. Instead, try, “Cute dress!” And if there is a special occasion? Well, your friend will likely tell you right then.
This is coupled when you’re complaining about something you’re disappointed in with yourself. Maybe you got a B on a math test when you typically pull in As and make it clear that’s not an acceptable score for yourself. If you tell your friend—who is proud of finally raising her grade from a C—that the score is “great” for them, it reads as both insincere and condescending.
If you haven’t already, remove anything related to weight from your compliment vocabulary—nothing good can come from it. Complimenting someone for losing weight or “looking thin” puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the number on the scale, and honestly, aren’t we just beyond that? Plus, while you may think your compliment is well-meaning, you never know why someone may be losing weight, be it an illness they don’t want to disclose or a particularly stressful situation at home.
If you’re trying to inflate your friend’s ego after they just found out their ex is seeing someone new, it can be easy to play this game with their former S.O.’s new somebody to make them feel better. The problem? It encourages comparison and makes them focus on all the ways they do, or do not, stack up to the new person in their ex’s life. It also feels like an empty compliment—does the new girlfriend or boyfriend’s subpar GPA really matter in the grand scheme of things? Instead, focus on how your friend is awesome all on their own.
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