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Compliments: Best Of

September 16th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

“You are this dramatic character I couldn’t of made up in the wildest corners of my imagination.”

I don’t know if the woman who said the words I wrote above meant them as a compliment, but I took them as such and I’ll never forget them because that is what the best compliments do. They stick to our skulls like Post-It notes, reminding us why we’re great or important or unique or special.

Compliments, unlike gifts, are always better to receive than to give. Giving a compliment, as writer Tom Chiarella writes in his Esquire article, “The Perfect Compliment”* is hard. So hard in fact, sometimes it’s not even worth giving, which is something I suggested in the post I wrote yesterday**.

But receiving a compliment, a true, genuine compliment is as good as finding money on the street, if the amount of money were over $20. And if it comes from a stranger, than it’s going to take $50 to match that feeling, because compliments from strangers always sound like good songs we haven’t heard in a long time.

Thinking about compliments and what they mean to us, begs the question, what are some of your most memorable compliments?

Below are some of the most memorable compliments I have ever received from  strangers. Check them out and then, if you can, write a couple of the best compliments you ever received in the Comments section.

On my writing, a young kid once told me…

I’m trying to write like you, man.

On the way I look, a girl working the door of a party I went to by myself once told me…

As cute as you are, you’re by yourself? Where you gonna be? Soon as I get done with these names, I’m buying you a drink.

On my work ethic, a father and his young son were eating at the restaurant I worked for in high school. The father points to me and says  to his son…

You see what he’s doing right there? Watch him work because that’s how you should work when you have a job.

On my intelligence, the editor-in-chief of a major men’s magazine once told me…

I’ve met a lot of people. You’re one of the smartest.

So there it is folks, some of the most memorable compliments I’ve received. There are plenty more, but I’d rather hear yours. Go!


* I can’t find it, but you should try to find Tom Chiarella’s article, “The Perfect Compliment” on

** The post I wrote yesterday: “Why I Look At Her”

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  • Tiersa McQueen

    Living in an apartment, there aren’t many secrets between neighbors. A single mother of three who lived above me and my husband once told me, “I hear you laughing all the time. . . you and your husband. I just wanted to tell you it’s inspiring.”

    While it’s not an individual compliment on how I look or my work ethic, it was nice to know that our marriage is an inspiration to someone who may be searching for the same thing. To know that we may give someone hope who may have given up on love otherwise makes me feel proud. I will never forget it.

  • Trace

    My mother was proudly telling her coworker about me and my sister and said “If I knew they were going to come out this good I would have had 2 more”

  • Lauren

    I loved this, Jozen. I’m not usually one to post comments to blogs, but I’m finding it hard to resist right now.

    I can think of a few…

    1) “Look at her freckles! She’s gorgeous!”
    I had on rain galoshes, my most bummy jeans, bad hair and ZERO makeup. I was grumpy. Like really, really, horribly stank – exasperated and side-eyeing people for no reason. I was making returns to a store in Union Square, and the three loud-acting teenage girls in line in front of me turned around looked me dead in the face and told me they thought I (and my freckles) were gorgeous. I was shocked. I’ve always *hated* my freckles, and on that particular day, I’d thought I looked like Quasimodo’s sister. Their timing and their candor (someone found me, fuzzy and without makeup, and my Pippi freckles to be *gorgeous*???) struck me so deeply.

    2) “You inspire me to wear my booty out.”
    Ok, before you furrow your brow, let me explain. I have a HUGE butt. Somedays I love her, other days I wanna do like 80,000 squats. One of my girls recently wore a pair of leggings *without* a big shirt or dress covering her backside and she looked GREAT! We were at a house party and I teased her, playfully smacking her in the booty. She lit up, said “Really??” and then proceeded to tell me how she always saw me wear things that fit me without *hiding* my booty, without being the least bit ashamed of what people would think. It’s true – I gave up the whole “tie a sweater over it” game in middle school, but I wasn’t acutely aware that anyone would ever be motivated to be more body-confident because of it. That’s dope!

    3) Warning: this one is dumb, but it still made me happy. I got invited to the “Wifey Material: Claire Huxtables” group on Facebook, created by a guy a few years ahead of me in school and the few other women he’d invited to the group were all the upperclassmen women a few years ahead me who I’d always really admired and thought were super-classy, smart and well-rounded. It was stupid (I’m sure the guy who created the group and invited me didn’t think about it but for two seconds) but it made my day.

    4)”You smell SO good!”
    In third grade, my best friend at school had B.O. and the class had to have a lecture about deoderant because of it. It scarred me, and to this day, being clean and smelling good are of UTMOST importance to me. Maybe I’m a littttle bit OCD, but for years I’ve taken 2 showers a day and have had a series of favorite scents for specific moods, seasons and occasions. I put the effort in for my own personal comfort and by now it’s really a happy personal habit, but I love when someone notices.

  • Jackie

    1. Well I personally like the “Your wearing that dress/boots” compliment. Those always make my day when I think im looking fly!

    2. Also my friend sometimes brag to other people on how good of a catch I am. It nice to know that my friends think high of me and defend my honor to strangers.

    3. A guy once told me that everytime he’s with me I turn heads and light up a room. I think I’m attractive but never the prettiest in the room or a head turner. That was a great compliment.

    4. I’ll always take a compliment about my cooking. If I offer someone food and they gladly accept, I feel good about it. I also love when I try something new and my BF tastes it and his eyes light up like its the best thing thats touched his lips.

  • Danielle

    stupid, but made me smile. Last Sunday, during football, someone told me I was the Martha Stewart of football Sundays because they loved my guacamole.

  • dwj

    One of my best compliments came from the parent of one of the students I used to advise and I met her at the end of the year, “Thank you for loving my son. It’s good to know that someone as loving as you is looking out for my child when he’s so far away from me.” It made me tear up – and I don’t cry.

  • kS

    moved to the Bay {CA} after live’n 20yrs in the midwest. didnt know nothing or nobody so i went to do something familiar: roller skating. went on a 25yo+ night but the crowd was more like 35+. i’m the only asian there but after a while i get comfortable. at the end of the night, an older gentleman comes up to me and says “you got soul.” felt my style was appreciated 😛

  • Crys

    A regular who I’d never noticed at my old job told my manager that everytime he comes in, I am always running a tight ship (or something to that accord) and was “the best” lol. It was great to hear because it was always hectic in there and most of the customers were super impatient. I barely ever got a thank you so that was nice.

  • Kobina

    I once held a door for an elderly white couple, the man looks me dead in the eye and says “thank you. You’re a gentleman and there’s not a lot left.” I take took this heart for 2 reasons:

    1) Though his era had many glaring troubles and injustices, those sort of social graces were expected of what I consider men. So to get the nod of recognition from someone from that era, really reinforced to me that I was becoming the man I envisioned myself growing up to be.

    2) I assume that all old white are racist or had to learn to accept negroes as being equal (I know this is horribly unfair), so again being complimented for possessing what even he considers a waning virtue really highlighted to me, the power of chivalry and grace to bring good to into society and it validated to me, the value I place on those things.

  • Jenny

    I just returned to me grad school after being away for a couple of years. It surprised me that the workers actually remembered me. One of them said, “I couldn’t never forget that smile!” That made me blush … great compliment!

  • Jinx

    Two of the best so far that have stuck with me is:

    1. “Wow, you’re so strong… I dunno how you do it.” That’s in regards to how I continued school after my mom passed last year in June. And I always equate the epitome of strength to her, because I have yet to see someone battle cancer without losing their ability to give love, live love and share love the way I saw her do it. Me being anything like my mother is the highest compliment anyone could ever give me.

    2. “You’re so beautiful.” What my fiance recently said to me when I walked back into the room. I’m 7 months pregnant and so that made me feel even better than I have already been feeling. I hope in the future my son will say the same when he sees all the preggo pics, lol.

  • Tia

    “Your soul is as wide as the ocean” I am a genuine individual and there’s not a thing that I won’t do or give anyone including strangers. I always give bums on the street money even if it’s my last. One day my son (he’s 4) once asked me why do I always give others and my response was because you never know when you are entertaining a angel. Plus, I look at it like this. If I was in need of something I would want someone to help me.

  • Leah

    1) I was once sitting on the train and noticed a guy with a sketch pad sketching, then looking up at me. The woman next to him was looking down at the pad, and also looking up at me. It took me a minute to realize it, but he was drawing me. I was so flattered.

    2) Whenever little kids pay me compliments, I know they mean it in the purest and most sincere way.

    3) My younger sister wrote a paper about me for her English class, listing me as one of her heroes. That made up for all the times she made me want to conch her upside the head when we were kids. *sobs*

    4) A male friend once said to me: “You’re awesome!” It sounds crazy, but it was like this sudden revelation, and it was so earnest.

  • Leah


  • Cheri

    My boyfriend and I went to high school together and graduated 13 years ago. Recently we found each other through mutual friends and have fallen in love!! He told me that if he could go back, he would have brought me a rose everyday to class until I agreed to go out with him then and we would have been together all these years!

  • LeRoy


    “You’re a jerk, a**hole.”
    From my wife to be. Way before the ditty, I likely called her on something and she was appauled by my canny delivery.

    “Damn you be writing your a** off!”
    I wrote this piece called breakfast in bed. In addition to a thousand others, but I normally only allowed BIB to be read.

    “You’re right handed and left footed, you think with both sides of your brain at the same time, f’in genuis.”
    My cousin Keith told me after a debate about the purpose of life, I was going through a TUNNEL.

    “You are beautiful”
    I can’t front, this one made me blush. I could have died that day. A young lady I never met, came up to me and said this. I don’t remmeber what I said, probably, ok.

    “Roy, you have one of the best attributes in the world, you can say no.”

    “Why are you here”.
    An old co-worker told me while we were handling claims and talking about nothing.

    “You are the king of useless information”
    -Emily Kleindschmit after I shared a bunch of information, likely got her with the reason wedding rings are worn on the left finger…

    You are right, compliments are special.

    “Were just a couple of dumbass genuises!”
    Co signed by Los, I said this to a company president. We didn’t get the money, lol. Los thought it was the best thing he ever heard.

  • KJohnson

    One Mother’s Day a few years back my mom told me that I was doing a “wonderful” job raising my 4 year old. This meant more to me than anything, because at the time I felt like I was slipping because of so many pressures (work, her dad, etc) but she could tell that I was still trying my best to raise my daughter.

  • Monique

    I was at work and we were having a visit from our Board of Directors and Shareholders. I am quite used to being the show off piece for my boss. He comes over to my area. He looks at me and smile and he turns to the Board and says, “If I had five more of her, I would shut this place down. I would fire everyone else and hit the Forbes 500 list fast.” Naturally, I had to use this for raise purposes. I am enjoying my promotion and raise.

  • Kristin

    My friends in college used to come hear me sing in the chamber concerts that were held every Friday. One week Ryan told me that my singing was “all that and a bag of doritos with Ranch dip”. It was so specific, it still makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

    Also, a couple of years ago, an actor that I was working with (whom I did not get along with) told me that he loved sharing scenes with me because I was so fluid and responsive onstage. Awesome.

  • Yogee

    -I’m thinking of a time when I was being dumped by a guy I had been dating for years. Get this, he actually said (and I ACTUALLY believed) that I was “easy to fall in love with.” I’m so glad that sucka is gone!

    -While in college, I learned that people who didn’t know my name would refer to me as “that tall girl with the pretty hair.” I can’t go to the grocery store without my hair on point to this very day.

    -I have been slow to reach life’s milestones, so I was discussing this with a friend who knows me very well. I was throwing myself a pity party, and she told me something like this: “you may feel like a late bloomer, but your harvest is long lasting.” Wow, I love her.

  • Yogee

    Oh, one more.

    I was at a different gym location, trying out new scenery for my daily workout. I noticed that I had caught this brotha’s eye, but I played it cool. He approached me out of nowhere several minutes later with a serious expression on his face and asked “Who the hell are you?” Left me speechless.

  • Crys
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  • lenny

    My favorite compliment of all time: A guy on the train at the airport telling me that I have a “Very powerful aura”