Offering a compliment has been shown to benefit both the giver and receiver, but we often hold back because we’re worried about how we’ll come off, said Erica Boothby, a social psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
If you’re complimenting someone you know, try to make it distinctive, added Barbara Fredrickson, the director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory and Kenan Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of “Love 2.0.” Instead of saying that you like the person’s laugh, say how it makes you feel. (“Hearing you laugh makes me want to laugh, too.”)
Or, if you’re complimenting something someone has done, explain why you admire it, Fredrickson said. “Instead of just saying, ‘Oh, what a great dinner you made,’” she said, “you can say, ‘You’re always so good at finding a new recipe and being creative.’” Personalizing your compliment with context, she said, makes the person feel even more valued.