How to Compliment a Guy

Published February 23, 2019
Shot of a mature man looking at his reflection in the mirror with his wife encouraging him to smile

A genuine compliment will likely be appreciated by the recipient as long as it's not designed to try to get something out of them. Compliment a guy to let him know you appreciate some aspect of him, but not to try to sweet-talk him into doing what you want.

Compliment Who He Is

When you compliment a man on his non-physical attributes, it shows that you look deeper than the surface and truly see who he is beyond his looks. If you know the guy fairly well and know what values he holds dear, this should guide you as to what compliments he will best respond to.

Be Genuine

A half-hearted compliment might be misunderstood as sarcasm if you don't seem to truly mean it. Don't tell a guy he's the most handsome man in the universe unless you actually believe it.

Be Clear

Be clear in framing your words as complimentary. For example, the compliment "Once you make up your mind about something you don't let anything stop you" can be seen as either a positive statement or a negative one, depending on the context and delivery.

Body Language and Tone

Your body language can have a big impact on whether he believes your compliment or not. While you may default to a joking tone in your delivery out of nervousness, this will only serve to minimize the compliment and make it sound like sarcasm.

  • Look him in the eyes.
  • Keep your body language open and neutral.
  • The tone of your voice should be pleasant and devoid of sarcasm.
  • Smile.

What to Compliment

Compliment things that are in his control or things for which he has worked hard. Complimenting him solely on something physical may make it seem as though you're reducing him to an object, and he might not like that. Here are some ideas for good compliments for a guy you don't know very well yet:

  • "Those are great glasses!"
  • "You sure seem to put a lot of thought into the discussions in class."
  • "You are a fantastic listener and so thoughtful."
  • "You're so strong - I can tell you take your workouts seriously."
  • "You make everyone around you feel comfortable and safe."
Couple laughing and relaxing at a party

Avoiding Awkwardness

Unfortunately, sometimes a compliment can unintentionally fall into the realm of awkward. You can avoid this by:

  • Don't veil a self-deprecating statement as a compliment. "I'll never be as smart as you" compliments his intellect, but if he accepts the compliment he's essentially agreeing that you aren't smart.
  • Don't panic if there's a brief moment of silence while he considers the compliment. Some guys - particularly shy, quiet guys - might need a moment to process the compliment before they respond.
  • Don't make overtly sexual compliments if you aren't in an intimate relationship with him. This is especially true if he already has a partner.
  • If you compliment his physique or other physical feature, don't add physical touch to the moment; this has the potential to get awkward very quickly if he's uncomfortable.
  • If you know he's uncomfortable receiving compliments, phrase them as statements of your beliefs as opposed to facts. For example, "I think you're the smartest guy in class" is opinion whereas "You're the smartest guy in class" is open to debate.

Complimenting Via Text or Online

A compliment is best-delivered face-to-face, but if circumstances dictate that you must communicate via text or online, don't let that stop you from complimenting him. Here are some tips for these types of compliments:

  • Remember that text doesn't indicate tone; make sure your compliments can't be misconstrued as sarcastic or insulting.
  • Don't lay it on too thick just because the screen makes you feel bolder than you would in person.
  • If his communication drops substantially after you compliment him, steer the conversation to another topic as he's likely uncomfortable.
  • Be aware that anything you type can be shared with anyone; don't say anything you wouldn't want others to hear you say.

Be Generous and Genuine

Most guys like receiving compliments, particularly when those compliments are genuine and from someone they're attracted to. Don't give a compliment in the hopes of getting one in return; instead, give a compliment because you mean it.

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How to Compliment a Guy