The new year is some days away and there are a number of compliments you should leave behind if you’re keen about being seen as sincere.
“You look great for your age!”
When you tell someone they look great for their age, the unspoken word is that they don’t look pretty or handsome in general. Instead of subtly insulting their looks, just leave off the qualifier—”for your age”—and tell them they look great.
“You’re so pretty, how are you still single?”
There’s nothing single people dislike more than being publicly and repeatedly reminded of their single status. Add in a bewildering “but you’re so pretty” and you’re implying that not only are they sad spinsters but that there must be something else wrong with them keeping them that way.
As a rule, don’t comment on someone else’s relationship status unless she brings up the topic first.
“You’re a really good driver… for a woman!”
This “compliment” has a number of nauseating variations and is often used as a subtle form of racism, sexism, or other problematic biases. “You’re in such good shape…for a mom.”
“You’re so smart…for someone who’s never been to college.” You never need whatever follows the “for”; just stop with “You’re so well-spoken/fit/intelligent/etc.”
“You did a fantastic job handling that project on your own!”
You may be trying to give someone their hard-earned credit but you could also be letting them know that they’re not a team player. In addition, this is only considered a compliment at all for people living in societies that put a high importance on the individual, like the U.S.
For someone that is from a culture that values group or family success over individual achievement, this may not only feel insulting but also humiliating.
“You’re so gorgeous!”
You may be surprised to learn that a lot of people don’t find this compliment attractive. Commenting on someone’s appearance when you don’t have a close personal relationship with them—like a coworker, casual acquaintance, or a stranger—can make them feel uncomfortable or even harassed, depending on the context.
More so, the most powerful (and safest) compliments are those that you know the recipient will feel connected to before you offer it.
“Great job getting that A! You’re so smart!”
Complimenting your child for doing something well seems like the right thing to do but as it turns out, complimenting their achievements can seriously backfire, making them think that’s all you care about.
It’s more important to compliment your children on the actions that reflect your family’s values, like persistence in the face of discouragement, helping others, or working hard to achieve a goal.