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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The 18 Best Compliments Anyone Can Ever Receive

We've all given and received rave reviews and praise, but certain compliments stand out from the pack. Here's what makes those lines so incredibly meaningful.

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“You’re a great listener”

When you show that you’re eager and open to hearing another person’s thoughts and feelings, the compliments will likely come flooding in. “I’ve been told both in my personal and professional life that I not only hear, but I truly listen,” says Bari Lovi, 39, of New York City. “Being recognized as a source of compassion, empathy, and mentorship have helped my life so much. So, hearing I’ve done that for someone is special.” When you tell someone he’s a good listener, it shows that you appreciate his thoughtfulness and presence. And you’re solidifying a relationship when you actively listen. Find out more about how to be a good listener.

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“You’re an amazing parent”

We’re all unsure at times if we’re being a good mother, father, brother, sister, or whatever our role may be. So it’s always reassuring for an outside source to tell you that you’re doing something right when it comes to your children. Rebecca Weinreich, 39, of New York City, felt just that when she and her husband, Josh, were told that they must be amazing parents since their kids were so happy and nice to everyone. “It was sweet because the woman always sees my kids at the playground with our nanny and other children,” says Weinreich. “To a working mom, it means the world—to know love, kindness, and manners are rubbing off on your children.” Read more on tips for giving thoughtful compliments.

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“You’re brave”

Remarking on someone’s strengths shows that you’re noticing what’s going on with her emotionally. And when a compliment goes beyond the surface, it conveys that what’s on the inside matters. It’s even more meaningful when the praise comes from your own mother. “My mother told me I was brave when I was a child, and it has shaped my entire life,” says Erica Lemp, 35, of Rockledge, Florida. “I am who I am today because of it.” Lemp says the compliment referred to her willingness and ability to talk to and speak in front of people. And the words have impacted her life. “There have been so many times where if I didn’t believe that about myself, if it hadn’t been instilled in me, I would’ve given up on tasks or ideas.” She says the words inspired her to audition for school plays—even though she’s not much of an actress. And those acting pursuits helped her be comfortable speaking publicly. At her job, a large part of her role focuses on connecting with people and conveying messages. The words have encouraged her to be a better leader, building people up to maximize their potential. She keeps her mother’s words close to heart. “Knowing that the woman whose opinion matters most to me thought of me in this way has inspired me to not disappoint her.” Find out what compliments you should be giving every day.


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“You’re a good homemaker”

We may not be 1950’s housewives, but there’s still something nice about hearing that you run a tight ship. Praise from an elder especially, is always good for the soul. Such was the case when Jaime Beth, age 40, of Trumbull, Connecticut, heard her grandmother call her a balabusta—Yiddish for a good homemaker. “Her home was always spotless and she was an amazing cook and baker,” Beth says about her grandmother. When people’s personal qualities are praised, the words hold a lasting impression. Here’s what your home can reveal about you.

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“You’re smarter than your brother”

Lisa Langsdorf, 39, of New York City, still remembers when her dad told her at around 9 or 10 years old that she is more intelligent than her older brother. “It taught me that women are as smart as men,” she says. When it came to homework, Langsdorf says she was distracted as a child, having a hard time focusing. “My dad didn’t want me to lose faith in my (academic) abilities and wanted me to understand that I could do anything a boy could do.” Try these tips to give sincere compliments.

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“Your wedding was the best I’ve ever been to”

When a guest raved about Diana Whelan’s wedding, she was flattered that all the hard work and little details she put into the event were noticed and appreciated. “I’ve been planning my wedding since I was like 4 years old, so it meant a lot,” says Whelan, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts.

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“You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had”

We all want our efforts in the workplace to be appreciated and valued. “A student told me in her holiday card that I was the best teacher she ever had, and that I made her want to be a teacher when she grows up,” says Leslie Weintraub, 39, of Hillsborough, New Jersey. Weintraub says she felt emotional and got choked up when she read the message. “It was a great reminder to me about why I teach and what I really love about my profession,” she says. “It also made me feel that what I do has meaning and that I’m making an impact, which isn’t a feeling I get all the time.”

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“You’re extraordinary and can accomplish anything, but you’re crazy and your ideas will never work”

Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach of EZ Dating Coach, says that the most meaningful compliment he has ever received was both positive and negative. “I was told ‘You’re extraordinary and can accomplish anything’ by a friend and told by colleagues at the same time, ‘You’re crazy and your ideas will never work.'” Goldstein used these words to help motivate him professionally to start and continue to build his own business. “On days when I was down and thinking of quitting, I needed people to remind me how much I had accomplished and that I could do anything,” says Goldstein. And the naysayers who said he’d never be successful made him work harder. He sought to prove them wrong by showing them that he could accomplish anything he set out to do.  

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“My son told me he wished that I could be his teacher”

For teacher Viviana Burgess, 39, of Succasunna, New Jersey, the best compliment came not from one of her students, but from her then 6-year-old son, Frankie, after he visited her classroom one day. “My son told me that he wished I could be his teacher because I’m really good at making kids happy,” she said. The words deeply impacted her, inspiring her to teach at a school closer to him so they could spend more time together. “I gave so much to my students and felt that Frankie was missing out.” Now she gets to see him more and finally he gets to see her more too. She’s grateful that she listened to Frankie, who’s now nine. “While I can’t be his teacher, I can show him what a good teacher can be, and hopefully what a great mom can be,” she says. These are the best compliments you can give a parent.

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“You’re always smiling”

When Stacy Andelsman, 50, of Livingston, New Jersey, was at her 30th high school reunion, she bumped into an old friend who she hadn’t seen in years. They hugged hello and chatted for a few minutes. “As I was walking away, he said, ‘You haven’t changed a bit. You were always smiling then and you still are now!'” Andelsman was elated to hear those words. “I love being remembered like that,” she says. “If I hadn’t been smiling already, that put a smile on my face for the rest of the night.” At the time, she was going through a rough patch in life. But she took his words to heart. “I knew that if someone saw that happy person in me, she was still in there somewhere and could eventually come out again,” she says. Here’s why smiling is so good for you.

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“You inspire me”

Who doesn’t want to be viewed as someone’s role model? It’s an instant mood lift. That’s just what happened for Beverly Chase, 39, of Brooklyn, New York. She is a supervising producer for a male-driven cable television show. “I just hold my own and do my job and have never considered gender playing a role.” Recently, some young women who work on the show asked her to grab coffee with them. “They told me what an inspiration I am to them as a woman ‘hanging tough’ with the men because they never see that there,” says Chase. She was beyond flattered to have inspired these women. “I do my job in the best way possible and never gave it a second thought,” she adds.

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“I have faith in you”

It’s always nice to know that your hard work and talent aren’t being ignored. Such was the case for Deborah Skolnik, 49, of Scarsdale, New York. “When my boss at (the now defunct magazine) McCall’s asked me to come up with a great headline for a story, I said ‘Well, this one is hard!'” said Skolnik. “My boss replied, ‘I know. That’s why I am giving it to you.'” At first, the words made her nervous. Then she realized they were a compliment, making her feel determined, she says. “It gave me a confidence boost that carried over into future jobs,” says Skolnik. “I decided that there was no editorial problem I couldn’t solve. After all, someone has to do it. It might as well be me.” Here’s what bosses really notice in their employees.

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“You’re a lioness”

Ironically, Cynthia Connelly’s greatest compliment came from someone trying to insult her. When her oldest daughter (now in high school) was in preschool, she was a bit unruly. And that made a teacher unhappy with her daughter and Connelly herself. But Connelly stuck up for her daughter. “The woman called me a lioness because I was advocating for and defending my daughter,” says Connelly, 45, of Sarasota, Florida. She had never seen herself as being fierce, so she felt honored to be called a lioness. She ended up switching her daughter to a new preschool. There, they respected her daughter and saw leadership qualities in her. “People’s perceptions of you are different than what you see in yourself,” says Connelly.

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“You’re an amazing advocate”

Sandra Toledo, 40, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, has been told numerous times that she’s an amazing mom and advocate for her 6-year-old daughter, Abby. “I don’t even bat an eyelash. That’s my kid and I’ll fight for her forever,” says Toledo. “Abby is my inspiration. But it feels really good to hear words like these validating that I’m doing everything I can for her.” People often tell her that they don’t know how she does it all—working full time, pursuing a master’s degree, and also raising a 1-year-old daughter. “I truly believe everyone can find time for what’s important to them.”

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“You were raised right”

Forty-five-year-old New York City resident Jacqueline Paige often goes shopping. But recently, a compliment came out of it. She was waiting on line at the bookstore when a legally blind woman asked her for assistance. Paige helped her navigate the line, waited for her to pay, walked her out of the store, and hailed her a taxi. “What a special girl,” she told Paige. “Someone really raised you right.” It made Paige’s day and likely that of the woman she helped.

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“You’re like coming home”

A college friend once raved about Rachel Sokol of Forest Hills, New York. “He told me that seeing me was like coming home,” says Sokol. “He meant that I was the same girl he remembered from college.” And that was a good thing to him indeed. “I was familiar; I hadn’t change a bit. That’s a warm, fuzzy feeling.” For Sokol, who is friendly but has always been shy, it was a compliment she’ll always remember.

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“You’re not afraid to ask questions”

During a work review a few years ago, 39-year-old Shannon Sheridan’s boss told her that she doesn’t fear inquiring about what’s on her mind. That vote of confidence in the workplace stuck with her, though she knew not to abuse it by asking the same question multiple times. “It gave me a sense of confidence from that point forward professionally,” says Sheridan, of Avon Lake, Ohio. “It made me see it as an asset.”

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“I admire you”

Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach on E!’s Famously Single, is a single mom to a 20-month-old son. And few people see her in mommy mode. They don’t know the soft, playful, teaching, and loving side that comes out when I’m on the floor playing with my son, teaching him his ABCs, comforting him when he trips and falls, cheering him on as he balances his blocks, showing him how to put the food down on the plate instead of throwing it on the floor,” she says. She says it can feel lonely when all those efforts go unnoticed by anyone but her. She was recently dating a man who got a glimpse into her home life. One morning, after a hard night with a sick baby, he told her, “Do you know when I find you most beautiful? In the middle of the night, when you haven’t slept more than a couple of hours, and you’re up holding and calming your crying baby,” he told House. “You’re a good mom, and I admire you.” She says she burst into tears after hearing those words. “I felt, for the first time in a long time, truly seen.”

Stacey Feintuch
Stacey Feintuch contributes to's Health and Relationship sections. Her articles have appeared in Woman's World, Boca Raton Observer and, among other sites and publications. She earned her MA in magazine writing from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and her BA in journalism from The George Washington University.