5 Of The Best Compliments You Can Get

The most basic component of a compliment seems to be something like: “the affirmation of a positive aspect of one’s identity via outside party.” In other words – validation. So powerful can compliments be that many of us know people who spend much of their time unconsciously trying to manipulate people into giving them compliments. But of course – these compliments are worthless, or at least low-yield. There are, however, very satisfying compliments one can receive, and here are five of the best.

1. When you hear that the person you have a crush on also has a crush on you

Example: Self-explanatory.

Why? Probably because this is that dollar-sign-in-the-eyes ka-ching moment marking your realization that – barring some unforeseen circumstance – the next month (at least) is going to be full of sex and exciting emotion.

Alternatives: The moment someone agrees to “go upstairs” with you, the moment your lover stops kissing you and starts moving down toward your crotch…

2. When your professor lavishes with praise your paper you worked forever on

Example: At the start of the semester you knew the final paper would be a thirty-page giant in which you had to defend your own thesis via the use of at least 20 sources, your own ‘field data’ (which showed adequate amounts of internal and external consistency), an interview with an expert on the subject, and a class presentation. Despite how horrified you are initially, by the time the end of the semester rolls around you’ve written a paper you’re actually proud of. In fact, you want your professor to read it because you want to show her how good it is. After two weeks of waiting for the grade, the paper comes back with high marks and a page-long handwritten note about how well-written and genius the thing is. The note closes: “Good luck next semester. If you ever need anything from me – references, letters of recommendation or otherwise – please do not hesitate to ask. Would be happy to.”

Why? Because you earned it. It’s not like you wrote the paper at the last minute and serendipitously achieved some high score. No – that would only convince you of your professor’s incompetence. It’s the fact that you worked so hard and became so convinced of the accuracy of your paper that your sense of hope for validation increased to epic proportions, which was matched by the proportions of your professor’s enthusiasm.

Alternatives: When an artist you respect is genuinely excited about your art.

3. When you get the job

Example: Mostly self-explanatory, but here’s one anyway: you’re in the running for a position with more prestige than you’ve ever had that pays more than you’ve ever been paid. The competition is intense. After four interviews and a month of waiting, your new boss calls you and explains that you’ve been chosen. It’s important to note here that the compliment not only includes the knowledge that you’ve been judged as superior to a relatively large number of applicants, but that many conversations between already-‘superior’ individuals (your new bosses) were had about you, and that they ultimately resulted in the group affirmation that you are, indeed, the best.

Why? See previous line. Also – the knowledge that a group of people who you respect genuinely believes you’re capable of meeting the demands of such an interesting position. Topping it off is that your literal value just jumped to the highest it’s ever been – you are now worth the highest salary of your career. This gets to your head, and it’s quite the rush.

Alternatives: When you get the scholarship, fellowship or grant, when you’re asked to head up a new department/ project/ research study at work/ school, when you threaten to quit and your employer responds by offering you a significant raise.

4. When someone tells you he enjoyed your article (or any other artistic/ intellectual endeavor), that he showed it to a large group of friends – who you don’t know – and they all thought it was awesome/ hilarious

Example: [Text message] “I’m at Summer’s, we’re reading your most recent piece on McSweeney’s aloud and we’re all laughing. Yr shit is so good.”

Why? A necessary component to this compliment is the fact that you don’t know who’s enjoying your artistic output, but you know they think it’s great. There’s something both intensely curious and validating about this situation – who are these unknown people so enraptured with a product of your artistic output? Perhaps the key here is the knowledge that you’ve produced something valuable enough to move people who aren’t your friends to validate you.

Alternatives: Your CEO shows investors your work and reports back that they were very impressed, a major venue/ figure emails you and tells you they like your stuff and asks if you’re available for an interview or some sort of collaboration.

5. When your professor/ superior uses you or your work as an example of what’s ideal

Example: [In a “team meeting” – you are Caitlin] “For example, Caitlin’s work on the beta program last week,” the Marketing Director – your boss – is saying. “She turned it in ahead of time, the work was organized with key points on the first page, and she presented it flawlessly in two different potential investor meetings…” No one’s looking at you, but you know they all want to be you right now.

Why? Good question. It’s probably as simple as the fact that the alpha human – whose opinion is thought of as the most valuable – has identified you as the superior individual among all the alpha’s underlings. Especially pertinent is that it happens in a group setting, which makes the alpha’s belief literally more… real.

Alternatives: When you’re the first person picked for the team. TC mark

image – reebs*


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      Oh, gag.

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    • Ella

      And a lot of people would see this as shallow. But at least for me, I'm confident in who I am intellectually and as a person, but struggle with being confident in the way I look, and that is why it matters more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    6: When a girl calls you to say she saw you on the news and that your haircut looked cute.

    Alternatives: She saw you on lookbook and hyped it.

  • http://SWANclothing.com Swan

    When your therapist says your definition of a human doormat is the best they've heard and ask if they can use it, and you say yes even though you don't want to?

  • anonymous

    this'll be a nice read for unemployed non-students

    • guest

      tell me about it, stud

  • http://twitter.com/suntwee MarieSa


  • http://twitter.com/McBeachey Matt Beachey

    6. When you step out of Apollo 11 onto the virgin moon, becoming the first human being to stand on a celestial body other than earth. 

    Being Neil Armstrong is so much better than being you.

    • guest

      I know right

  • guest

    When you get the job: because you're unemployed and broke as hell and washing dishes in a hotel would be a dream come true

  • xra


  • federico

    When your professor lavishes with praise your paper you wrote in forty minutes

  • sloppysoup

    #1 is the only one i care about

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1198922828 Marianna Elvira

    #4 all the way

  • joe

    These have all happened to me in my life. Specifically, my 8th grade english teacher passed my final exam around his department because my essays were so good/hilarious. My AP English teacher once read my essays aloud to the other class for writing examples. I don't know if that should be embarrassing or a compliment.

    • guest

      wank wank wank

    • Rasmusantonsen

      Not to be an asshole here, but doesn't it bum you out a little bit that it happened in the 8th grade? It was great then – and still is impressive that you achieved that in the 8th grade. But it's a known fact that merits from before gradution of college/university deteriorates over time and basically cease to exist as something you can tell other people (unless you became chess grandmaster at age 13, #magnuscarlsen). You can still use it as a boost of selfconfidence, albeit carefully – no one want's to be stuck feeling great about their past-me, right? I mean have stopped telling people about how impressive it was that I has able to stand up in the baby carriage before my friend born one day before me. Get it?

      • whatsinaname

        he isn't sharing it as a measure of his literary success, he is connecting to the article and giving an example of when he felt good about a compliment. i don't see the need to rag on him….

      • Rasmusantonsen

        Yeah, sorry – I didn’t write it to rag on anybody, but merely wanted to point out that the value of our merits change as we go through life. I can, however, see how it came out as being a bit sour and ragging. Didn’t do write it to step on anyones toes, but for the sake of discussion. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647307612 Nina Thomas

    I love this article for so many reasons and reading it made me happy :)

  • xx

    is this article supposed to make me feel like shit? because none of these things have happened to me, except, #3. oh wait, it's not about me, it's about you. you youyou you you.

  • eferf67
  • : (

    This article makes me feel bad about myself.  Asshole.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJ3GM7VKFL5OHWI3DYNHNUNLRA Frida

    #2, 4 and 5.

    The only possible downside is that it creates a a lot of pressure to continuously impress.  People have a certain expectation which you feel the need to live up to.
    That could also be good though, if you work best under pressure.
    I do, although I hate the feeling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sasjam Sas Jam

    And to think- I was totes' satisfied with “Nice shoes”.

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