10 Ways to Compliment a Woman, without mentioning her looks

By on August 1, 2011

By Elizabeth Patch –

I confess.
I secretly love it when someone compliments a new haircut or admires my outfit.
But what really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside is when I get praise for something other than my appearance. Notice my garden, ask me about my writing, compliment my children or my home, praise my drawing or cooking or strange left-handed knitting technique, and you seriously hit my self-esteem button!

Commenting on a woman’s appearance is automatic.
We start by gushing over baby girls with “Don’t you look pretty in that party dress!” We continue to mention hair, weight, clothes, skin, makeup, etc. for the rest of her life. These comments are usually given in a positive spirit, but if that is the only type of compliment a woman or girl ever hears, a very subtle but profound message is reinforced: You are what you look like. Period.

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An endless diet of “pretty girl” compliments (and nothing else) can help set us up for disappointment and anxiety and self-doubt. We can’t possibly keep up with being pretty enough, sexy enough, stylish enough or thin enough! If these compliments stop or slow down (or never materialize in the first place!) feelings of being fat, ugly, old or otherwise not attractive enough make us forget the truly amazing qualities we possess that have nothing to do with looks.

I think we should help each other realize how fine we all look, in all of our glorious sizes, shapes, ages, colors, faces and bodies. But I think we also desperately need to be praised for our talents and accomplishments, our dreams and ideas,
our tiny personal triumphs and our big public victories!

So here are 10 ways to compliment your female friends and family members, your co-workers and your casual acquaintances (and yes, even yourself!) without mentioning looks.

1. The “Good Job” Compliment

If someone does a good job, at anything, they deserve recognition! Whether it’s a 4-year old who can read “big girl books”, a 14-year old who made the winning goal at a soccer game, or a 40 year old who finally gets her own administrative assistant, nothing builds up pride and self-confidence more than being recognized for a job well done.

2. The “Brave Heart” Compliment

This is for the shy, hesitant friend who finally gets the nerve to travel to Europe alone, the newly divorced woman who grows more courageous instead of falling apart, and for everyone who overcomes the pain of the past, steps outside her comfort zone and dares to start over again!
Admire her emotional bravery! You go girl!

3. The “You are a Goddess” Compliment

Bow down to her super-natural, amazingly awesome talents! She can be the Goddess of the Play Date, or the Goddess of the Cocktail Party, Domestic Goddess or Executive Goddess, Multi-Tasking Goddess or Yoga Goddess. Whatever type of Goddess she is, giving her an official title is the ultimate compliment.

4. The “Smarty Pants” Compliment

If only we told our little girls how smart they are as often as we tell them how cute they are…She (or you!) figured out something complex, solved a tough problem, passed a test with flying colors, invented something new, started a business, proved that women are good at math or science or visual/spatial relationships (or any of those other things we’re not “supposed to be” good at ). Pass along a big “Brava!” (Ms. Smarty Pants knows this already: Brava is for women, Bravo is for men)

5. The “Tough Cookie” Compliment

She juggles being a single mom with a full-time job or she’s the first in her family to go to college, or she somehow manages to bounce back from a disaster that would crush most other women. She deserves all the praise you can give her for her strength, her determination, her stamina and her guts! So tell her! (and maybe give her a hug too)

6. The “Show Me” Compliment

It doesn’t matter what the skill is, whether it’s building a compost bin or designing a website, asking someone to show you how she did it is the ultimate compliment of her skills and expertise. “Amazing pie crust! What is the recipe?” “You really know how to fix a leaky faucet! Can you show me?” “I wish I could do _________. How did you learn?”

7. The “Life of the Party” Compliment

Don’t you just love hanging out with someone who can turn a dull event into something fun? Let her know! “I love how you make me laugh!”
“You always make me smile.” “You are so much fun to be with.”

8. The “Creative Touch” Compliment

This one is great for the artsy girls you know, the ones who always come up with something unexpected and original. Praise her creative touches, whether it’s her handmade greeting cards, that wild color she painted her bedroom, her ability to throw unusual ingredients together into something delicious, anything and everything that shows her expressive nature!

9. The “Queen of the Castle” Compliment

Compliment my kids, my house, my garden, my cat, and you shine a light on me! We are co-creators of the spaces we live in and the families we raise, and most of us are damn proud when someone compliments our home or families!

10. The “Mushy Gooey” Compliment

Go ahead, tell her you love her (or admire her or think she’s just plain amazing). You don’t even have to give a reason!

© Elizabeth Patch, all rights reserved.
Illustration and writing used with permission of the artist.

Elizabeth Patch’s inspirational writing style and adorable illustrations take a light-hearted look at the serious issues of body image and self-esteem for women of all sizes. Website: http://elizabethpatch.com/.

About Elizabeth Patch

Elizabeth Patch's inspirational writing style and adorable illustrations take a light-hearted look at the serious issues of body image and self-esteem for women of all sizes. Blog: http://elizabethpatch.com.

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10 Ways to Compliment a Woman, without mentioning her looks