How to Give a Compliment that is NOT Related to Appearance

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The Problem with Appearance-Based Compliments

It is common to compliment someone’s appearance. Think of how often you are at a social gathering and hear something like, “Oooo you lost weight!”

Even if they are meant to be kind, appearance related comments can be quite harmful. You may be inadvertently complimenting a symptom of a mental health diagnosis (such as an eating disorder) or medical issue, or the impact of grief.

Research shows that people who consistently receive appearance-based compliments begin to see themselves as an object and attach their self worth to their appearance.

A person’s physical appearance is the least interesting thing about them. It is much more meaningful and personal to compliment other aspects of a person.

Examples of compliments that aren’t about appearance:

  1. You light up the room!
  2. I am proud of you for ______
  3. You are easy to talk to.
  4. I admire your ______
  5. Thanks for being there for me.
  6. You are so funny!
  7. You are talented at ______
  8. I feel like I can be myself around you!
  9. I enjoy spending time with you!
  10. You are so creative!

What are your favorite compliments (to give OR receive) that are not related to appearance?

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Andrea Schroeder, MS, LPCC.

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