How Do You Like to Be Complimented?



Yesterday I was talking to a friend who I’ve known since I was 16 and she commented that back then she was jealous of my super cool trendy hairdo I had back then (it was an asymmetrical style very 1984), and it’s funny that I never saw myself as either cool or trendy back then.  When I was 16 I would have loved to be called cool or trendy, these days if someone complimented me telling me I look trendy I’d be horrified and wouldn’t feel it was a great compliment for me at my age, as trendy feels too ‘try hard’ for a women in her 40s.

I love to be told I look great, gorgeous, and of course, fabulous.  But I don’t enjoy it when someone tells me I look like I’ve lost weight (I haven’t and it always makes me wonder how fat am I in the image in their head?).

If I was told I looked chic,  I would also think chic is not a word I’d used to describe myself and it feels too high maintenance for me.  Through my work I’ve met women who would like to be described as feminine, and others who would be horrified at the thought.

What compliments do you enjoy receiving and which ones make you feel uncomfortable?


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  • I also hate the "did you lose weight," and NEVER say that to another woman unless it's really, really obvious or I know they've been in training.

    I don't mind chic, I like being told I look "smart" or "put together" or "finished," since that means I did a good job dressing that day. I hate "sexy" or the like.

    • When I was alittle younger people would say “you look nice or you look so nice. Today they say “you look so put together” what does that mean, I have no idea….

  • I'd rather be "pretty" than "cute", rather be "striking" than "hot", and like you, and can't quite take "trendy" as a compliment.

    But honestly, I take what I can get. =)

  • I like simple compliments like "you look great" or "I like that (scarf, necklace, fill in the blank) on you".

    I hate "you look nice today" which suggests that I looked like crap all the other days. Ditto with "sexy", "hot", "comfortable" (what does that mean?) and "adorable" (I'm nearly 50 so like "trendy", I do not take this as a compliment).

    I would love it if someone said I looked "smart" or "elegant" but perhaps I have not nailed those looks yet.

  • I had my neighbour say yesterday that I had lost weight. I said that I hadn't but she insisted that I had. Didn't think that was a compliment (at 55kgs I don't need to lose weight).
    I have older people say how lovely I look – I like that 🙂

  • I think I'll take anything that is intended as a compliment and not be too picky about it, frankly! I'm in no danger of some of the specifics: chic, elegant, sexy. I'd be very happy with 'you look well' or 'rested' or 'happy'. I like your (hair/outfit/bag/shoes…) would be wonderful. Can't actually remember the last compliment I had, so obviously I need to pay more attention to the advice here!

  • A word to the wise, it's probably a bad idea to ever use " cute" about anyone over 55. It implies second childhood. even if you don't intend to.

  • Definitely not "cute" or "adorable". Even though I'm still young, I can't stand it. I don't like "hot" and "sexy", because dressing to attract partners is the last thing I want. And last but not least, I hate compliments aimed at specific body parts.

  • Me? I like to be told I look like *any* of the women of Mad Men! At least, that's what I would like to project: a put-together and glamorous look that is un-apologetically femme.

    I don't like to be told I "carry myself" well. That makes me feel half naked. I actually haven't heard this in years, since I don't venture into garages anymore!

  • Itari: that's unfortunate – I was just going to tell you what a pretty eyeball you have… 😉

    Me? I hope I'm never referred to as a "handsome woman". 🙂 But I do enjoy compliments about my clothing, especially when it's something I've knit or sewn myself.

  • Great post! I also hope to avoid the "you look so trendy" compliment, which I don't consider a compliment at all. I'm deep into my "Getting in Shape" phase and have dropped 30 pounds so far so I keep getting the "Wow! You've lost a lot of weight" comments. I'm excited to get to the point where people don't bring the old pudgy version of me to mind and just compliment me with a "you look great/fabulous/happy/stunning/cute/lovely." I also love getting a sexy compliment from my hubby!

  • I can't stand "cute" I always looked young for my age, but now I'm old enough that that should not be a factor. I'm sort of put off by anything that ends with "today" because of the implication that I usually don't – You look great today! You look so put together today!

    I have no concern with did you lose weight except for from one friend that doesn't like how I look when I'm too skinny. If she says it, I worry I'm not looking good.

    I have no problem with hot/sexy.

    My funniest every compliment was
    "You are WEARING those shorts."
    I believe there was an implied compliment to my backside, but the literal meaning just cracked me up.

  • 50 lbs and 10 years ago people older than me would tell me I looked like Grace Kelly. I had no idea who she was, but now I'd love to have that compliment again! Now I prefer the specific compliments regarding jewelry, shoes, etc.

    Funny, when I was younger I can specificly remember my mother telling people NOT to complement us on our looks, or if it was a stranger she'd say, "Yes. And they're very smart." or "Yes, and she's got a good head on her shoulders". Even today I am extremely leery when I receive a complement and instruct my daughter to simply say "Thank you." At 5, we're still working on it. (But my mother, if she overhears my in-laws telling my daughter how beautiful she looks, will be sure to say, "Yes, and she's smart, too!" Gotta love her.)

  • I think I prefer the generic words, like 'great' or 'good' or a specific comment addressed to a particular attribute – a few weeks ago someone said to me 'Love the way you've combined those colours' and that made me pretty happy! Agree with everyone else about the words 'cute', 'trendy', etc being inappropriate and unwelcome …

  • The only comment I care to hear is a general "you look wonderful" or something like that. My family taught me it was the height of rudeness to comment on someone else's person. So anything specific about weight, clothes, hair, was off limits. And it makes sense. Perhaps that person who lost weight lost it because of grief, depression, or an illness. Perhaps that haircut you like was a huge mistake in the wearer's opinion. And someone who says "you look wonderful TODAY" brings up the question "so, did I look less than great YESTERDAY?"

  • I'd prefer that people said nothing at all to me about the way I look unless I ask. When someone says 'you look nice today' I wonder what I look like every other day.

    • How about ” you look nice” period …to me that’s a compliment ..NOT you look put together..I don’t understand what that means …

  • I'll take any sincere compliment. I have very good posture so I get comments on that, and as long as it doesn't veer into creepy territory (people analyzing how I walk) I appreciate the thoughtfulness, more than just a quick "hey I like your shoes."

    Yesterday I almost complimented a stranger on her lovely sundress, and now I wish I'd spoken up and probably brightened her day!

  • Imogen, this is an interesting post. I am so used to hearing negative remarks about myself, say , I am proud, not good in this or that ( I have had this going on all my life ), so that when people give me compliments, I shovel them away right away. I am just trying to learn to accept compliments. And this is really difficult for me. Please, no weight remarks either.

  • Pretty, lovely, beautiful all sound best to me. I hate any weight-related compliment because as women we've had enough attention drawn to the size of our bodies; why add to this, even through a compliment?

  • Never underestimate the power of a new haircut. Since I chopped off my hair and grew out the color I've gotten all kinds of wonderful compliments; even how glamorous I looked from my MIL. I like chic and elegant which my husband will often tell me I look. I don't love to get have you lost weight, especially when I haven't. Never forget that a complement demands a response and a simple thank you does it. Too many women go into a litany of what's wrong with what they are wearing or they've gained weight, etc. Enough. Accept the damn complement graciously.

  • What's worse then 'you've lost weight'…. 'you don't work out anymore do you'. I think it was intended as you don't look as engerised & you had been.

    I like to hear that I look lovely or great in that and that a colour suits me. Or that I'm bubbly today. I prefer to hear things that don't revolve around my shape or size.

  • I prefer something to the effect that "you should wear that more often", or a simple "you look nice". Just PLEASE don't call me cute, I haven't been young enough or small enough to be cute in a few decades.

  • I cannot believe how picky people get at which compliments they prefer. Unless the compliment is obviously given in a sarcastic manner it should be accepted with a "thank you" and a smile. I hate when I try to be nice to someone and I get attacked for using the wrong adjective or have to hear a barrage of what's wrong with them. I get compliments a lot, nice, pretty, trendy, hot, sexy, cute, etc, and always enjoy them. I agree the weight comment can be tricky and shouldn't be given to people you're not close to, but again, if it's not meant badly it's all good. And the response of "they are smart, too" seems to imply that pretty girls cannot be smart which is kind of sexist, isn't it?

    • I don’t think that’s the implication at all. The grandmother is making sure that the girls hear her bragging about their brains for good reason. If girls get positive attention only about their appearance and never about their intellect or their accomplishments, then it’s easy for them to assume that appearance is their most important attribute in the eyes of others. An insecure girl could fall into the trap of paying more attention to her appearance than to her accomplishments.

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