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Paying a compliment is most definitively a culture-related language function. The projects is meant to research the issue of compliments: the ways we pay them to others, the ways we react to them etc. Complimenting or flattering? Do's and don'ts in relation to frequecy, style, language, habits, customs ... and much more.

Age range
10 - 25
Melita Vidmar
Project stage
In progress
Last update
12 years ago
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Compliments are particularly interesting because they pose a politeness dilemma for the recipient, who either has to violate the maxim of agreement or the maxim of modesty. They have been investigated from very different perspectives (pattern of the compliment, the demographics of the complimenter and the compliment recipient, compliment responses and so on) 

So, what is supposed to be a right response when someone tells you this:

A: You have simply beautiful eyes!

Thank you? You must be joking! Or, nothing. 

It all depends on WHO pays a compliment, when, how, where...

Compliments are very much culture related. A comliment in one culture can be a taboo in some other/s.

This most interesting issue is thus asking for a most serious investigation. 

Examples from colleagues and the Ls from across the globe can bring us all a totally new and fresh insight into the matter.

Why not give it go?!

Welcome to the page, dear colleagues and friends!

how to compliment someone in Mandarin Chinese



People of all ages and backgrounds, and at all stages of success and failure, need love and recognition in order to live happily. Everyone, if he is to function at his best, needs to be noticed and appreciated. Most of us want to be told how we are doing. If our best efforts are met with silence, we tend to become careless, negligent and hostile.

Each one of us has a mental picture of ourselves, a self-image. To find life reasonably satisfying, the self-image must be one that we can live with and can like. When we are proud of our self-image, we feel confident and free to be ourselves. We function at our best. When we are ashamed of our self-image, we attempt to hide, rather than express ourselves. In such a situation, one becomes hostile and hard, to get along with. A sort of miracle happens to the person whose self-esteem has been raised. He suddenly starts liking other people better. He becomes kinder and more co-operative with people around him. Praise is a like a polish that helps to keep one’s self-image bright and sparkling. By raising someone’s spirits and adding to someone’s self-esteem, you make him want to like you and co-operate with you. To flatter or put into words, emotions we don’t feel, amounts to insincerity that is easily spotted, and benefits none.









How To Pay Compliments

One can pass on compliments in a casual conversation, or in a letter, or a written note. There is yet another way — that of third party compliments. When someone says something pleasant to you directly, there is a possibility of that being discounted as mere politeness or even flattery. There are many others who find it difficult to pay compliments directly, as it may cause some embarrassment. They can take recourse to what may be called ‘third party compliments’. This form of appreciation is much easier and could even be more effective. When indirect compliments reach the concerned party, they may be better than direct ones, because most people believe that if someone praises you behind your back, he probably means exactly what he says.

When To Pay Compliments

The golden rule of appreciation is - Do it now! Do it while your sense of gratitude is fresh and strong. If you feel a flash of thankfulness, act on it before the impulse goes away.



In this stage we'd like to see as many types of compliments in as many various life and business situations as possible.





Compliment a teen when a particular look or hairstyle works well. Teens like to experiment with their appearance. They might choose to spend months growing their hair long, only to suddenly decide to cut it really short. They could try a gothic look for a while and then change to preppie or a casual surfer look. Even if the style is something you'd never adopt for yourself, go out of your way to pay a compliment. Keep your comment short and sincere. Something like, "Cool hat!" or "I like your haircut" will validate your teen. 2 Praise positive behavior. Go beyond outward appearances and look into the heart of a teen. When she does something to benefit another person, take note and compliment her action. It could be anything from helping a younger sibling with homework to counseling a friend in crisis to donating some of her own money to a worthy cause, like a food drive. Notice and praise the good deeds. 3 Pay special attention to the quiet recluses and point out something praiseworthy about them. Some teens are exceedingly shy and blend into the background. It may be easier to notice the high-achieving stars than these shy violets, but every teen desires praise and recognition. If a quiet teen is good at strategygames, fixing cars or fiddling with computers, for example, or he can recite every bit of trivia related to Star Wars, compliment his unique ability. Do so and you may even start to see the teen come out of his shell. 4 Recognize school achievements. Getting a "B" grade on a difficult test, completing an enormous project on time, getting a positive comment from a teacher--any one of these merit your attention and validating words. 5 Include your teen in family decisions. Get your teen plugged into many aspects of family life. Ask for input and opinions, and take them seriously. 6 Listen when a teen talks. The ideas might be sensible or far-fetched, but either way, pay attention and treat the teenager the way you would an adult friend or colleague. Listen respectfully and attentively. 7 Take your teen out every once in a while just for the fun of it. Go to a favorite coffee shop or pizza place and spend a little time relaxing, de-stressing and reconnecting.

Read more: How to Validate a Teenager |


S: Your earrings are pure gold, aren't they?

A: Yes, they are. They must be pure gold when you put them on.

S: Money is a necessary condition to become attractive, indeed.

A: I think so too.



Depending on a specific culture, compliments rage from common to rather odd ones, particularly in respect to the response to them.



What one should never say:

- "You certainly do dress well ... for a fat man/woman."

- "You must have been really pretty as a young man/woman."

- "That dress looks better on you every year."

- "What a cute skirt. Is it pleather?"

- "You short people sure are intelligent."


Once we understand the existance of a variety of paying a compliment, one should try to dig under the surface in search for some answers...

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This interesting issue plays a vital part of the project.

preuzmi (1).jpg DEAR FRIEND NOTE.jpg



  1. To praise unduly

    overpraise, adulatelaudglorify; see compliment 1, praise 1.

  2. To fawn upon

    kowtow to, toady to, butter up*; see compliment 1, grovel.

  3. To be becoming to a wearer

    becomeenhancesuitbeautifygraceembellishenrichadorngo with; see alsobecome 


    Webster's New World Roget's A-Z Thesaurus Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. 
    Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


    1. To compliment excessively and ingratiatingly:

      adulateblandishbutter uphoneyslaver. (Informal) soft-soapsweet-talk. See praise
    2. To look good on or with:

      becomeenhancesuit. Idiom: put in the best light. See agreebeautiful

    Webster's New World Roget's A-Z Thesaurus, 2010



This significant stage offers a wide range of opportunities...


Giving and receiving compliments belongs to a class of social skills involving graciousness. Teaching your child how to give and receive a compliment will help them to appreciate others and to feel appreciated as well.

Sincerity is the key to giving compliments. Voicing your favorable perception or reaction to someone or something is usually best simply stated. A true compliment comes from the giver’s heart and impacts the receiver’s heart. Compliments are often remembered long after they are spoken. They can lift, heal, and inspire great things.




"Compliments" - This activity is gratefully borrowed from Positive Discipline in the Classroom by Jane Nelson, Lynn Lott and Nan Miller. Its purpose is to engender a positive environment and to boost self-esteem.

Materials: A soft item to pass around

Directions: Seat students in a circle (on chairs or on the floor). Invite them to think of a time when someone said something complimentary to them that made an impression and made them feel good. Ask them to take turns to share their examples or to volunteer.

Next, ask them to think about something they would like to thank or compliment others for, such as loaning money for a phone call, helping with homework, being a loyal friend. While sharing their memories, encourage students to be specific about these deeds and not to be focused on clothing and superficial attributes.

Discuss with students how to receive and accept compliments. Provide examples and conclude that a simple and sincere "Thank you" is all that is necessary in most cases.

Finally, once students understand how to give and receive compliments, invite students to take turns passing around (or across the circle) the soft item to give a compliment to another student. Depending on the size of the group, teachers (or student facilitator) may establish a time limit or co-create a system that ensures that everyone gives and receives a compliment.

This activity can be repeated regularly as part of class meetings. The authors of Positive Discipline in the Classroom suggest that teachers also ask, "Think of something you wish someone would compliment you on," and then ask if someone else in the class would like to give that "compliment" to their classmate. They also warn about "backhanded" compliments and criticisms, both of which should be addressed and rephrased.

Debrief: Teacher asks, "What did you like most about this activity?" "What if anything, made you feel uncomfortable?" "What kinds of compliments did you not hear?"

Time: The first time this activity is attempted may take longer than anticipated to hear from everyone. Allow 1 minute per compliment or allot 15 - 20 minutes total and students can volunteer or pass.

Results: It took several times before all students became open and thoughtful with their compliments. Notwithstanding, the sense of community and goodwill increased noticeably and several students received recognition and support from their peers for the first time. In very large classes, teachers are advised to divide the students into smaller groups.



This lesson encourages children to think of the feelings of others. Students discover that it feels good to make others feel good.


One Thirty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • state what they like about a classmate.
  • respond appropriately when receiving a compliment.


  • Paper and pencils
  • Three faces drawn on the chalkboard or large paper (see Anticipatory Set)
  • A jar containing a slip of paper for each student on which the teacher has written a specific a compliment

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Draw three large faces on the chalkboard or large sheets of paper, one face should be a "happy face", one a "straight mouth face" and one a "sad face". Have the faces displayed so that they are spaced apart. Ask students to remember how they felt walking into the classroom on the first day of school, Were they a little frightened or worried that they wouldn't know anyone? Then ask the students to look at the faces and to go stand by the face that best shows that feeling. Take some time to ask several students to tell why they choose that face. Then ask them to move to the face that shows how they feel about being in that classroom today. (Presumably, several students will move from the "straight" or "sad" face to the to the happy face. If everyone begins at the happy face, that's wonderful, just skip the next question and go on.) Now ask, What things happened in the classroom that caused the change? What makes this classroom a good place to be? Are there things students cansay that will also make them appreciate each other?


  • Ask students if they know what it is called when someone says something nice about a person. Explain that the word is called a compliment. Discuss the meaning of the word "compliment."

  • Discuss how it feels to receive a compliment. (Often compliments will cause persons to smile and they will feel happy.) Stress that a compliment given to another person should be true.

  • Remind students to say, "Thank you," after they have received a compliment.

  • Discuss how important it is to be a part of the "classroom community." We need to care about and take care of each other. Giving compliments is an example of caring and taking care.

  • The teacher should write a compliment to each student on a slip of paper and put it into a container. (Try to identify something unique and specific about each student.) To practice receiving compliments, the teacher will randomly pull compliments out of the container and give the compliment to the intended person. The teacher should remind the students to respond appropriately to the compliment.

  • The teacher should then write each student's name on a piece of paper and place it in another container. Students may pull names out of the container, making sure not to get their own names. Students should write or draw a compliment to the person whose name they drew. Remind students that a compliment is something nice that will make a person feel good. Allow time for students to formulate compliments. Some students may require compliment starters such as:
  • I like you because…
You are a friend because… Thank you for….  Have students take turns paying compliments to each other in front of the class and thanking each other for the compliments. Ask students how it felt to receive a compliment. Ask students how giving a compliment to someone made them feel.


I 1ntroduce the lesson or activity. Begin by asking the children what they think it means to show someone you appreciate them. Then lead a discussion talking to the children about how it makes them feel when someone says something nice to them. You can also get into how a simple smile and compliment can make someones entire day. You could also mention to children that compliments make great inexpensive gifts. Have them give their own examples of their own favorite compliments. 2 Explain the rules of the activity to the children. Tell them what they will be expected to do, and tell them that they will not be aloud to talk during the activity. 3 Tape a sheet of paper to each child's back, and make sure that they all have pencils. 4 The children should be given at least 15 minutes to complete the activity. The object is for each child to write a personal compliment on each of their peer's paper. Since the papers on on the children's back they will not know who writes what. Make sure they children know that they are to remain anonymous with their compliments, which leaves them free to write what they like. You also should make sure that they are only writing nice things. They are not supposed to talk during this activity, so tell them that they can tap on their peer's shoulder twice to get them to stop and allow them to write on their paper. Tell them that when they finish writing, they should tap on their shoulder again one time signaling that that child can move on. You may need to model this, especially for younger children. 5 Before telling the children to look at their papers, ask them why they want to look at them so badly. Talk to them about how excited it makes us feel to know what nice things people have to say about us. Then, allow them to read their compliments. You may want to let the children read their favorite one to the group. 6 Close the activity by summing everything up. Talk about how good it makes the children to hear good things that others' have to say about them. Tell them that if they are ever having a bad day or feel unlikable, then they can look at their compliment sheets and remember that there are many great things about them!

Classroom activity No. 4.:

Getting to Know Each Other"

By Leah Davies, M.Ed

These activities help children feel bonded to each other and to their teacher or group leader. When students feel accepted and have a sense of belonging, their attitude toward each other and learning is enhanced. These activities are most effective when appropriately adapted to specific age levels and group sizes. 

1. Make a large, blank puzzle out of poster board. Give a puzzle piece to each student and have them write their first name in the middle. Have them draw items that represent themselves or decorate their piece with a variety of materials. When they are finished, put them together to make a bulletin board entitled, "Each of us is important!" 

A variation is to make a classroom quilt. Cut pieces of light colored construction paper into 8" x 8" squares. Show the children how to draw a diamond in the middle of the square leaving four triangles, one in each corner. Have them write adjectives that describe themselves in the four triangles. Divide the children into pairs or groups of five and have them discuss what they wrote. Then ask students to glue their picture in the center of their square and attach the quilt pieces to a bulletin board. 

2. Ask the children to brainstorm negative feelings they or their friends have had, such as sad, angry, lonely, embarrassed, afraid, frustrated, jealous, disorganized, lonely, or hurt. You may want to write them on the board. Give the children a large index card and ask them to write down one of the words that describes an emotion they have had. 

Sit in a circle on the floor and place the mixed cards, face down, in the center. Pick up a card, read the word and ask, "What could make you feel (insert the feeling word)?" Accept all answers by restating what the student said. Then ask, "If you were feeling (name the emotion), what could you do to feel better?" 

Encourage the children to name positive coping skills. For the emotion, anger, a child may answer, "Hit him!" In that case you may want to ask the children if hitting is a good idea and discuss more positive methods for handling anger. If the card pulled is a duplicate, pick another one to discuss. 

Variations are to have the emotions printed on cards ahead of time, to place the cards face up instead of face down, and/or to have the children take turns choosing a feeling card and answering the questions. 

3. Define "birth order" in a family. Ask the students to divide themselves into four groups:

  • The eldest in the family
  • The youngest in the family
  • Any place in the middle
  • An only child
Then ask a child to volunteer to be the leader from each group. The leader's role is to:
  • get everyone involved
  • ask questions
  • write down the children's answers
  • report back to the class or group
Questions to ask:
  • "What do you like about your birth order?"
  • "What don't you like about your birth order?"
  • "How are we alike as a group?"
4. You will need an open space with the children standing. The teacher or leader whispers the name of an animal to each child, or the children choose a slip of folded paper with an animal name or picture on it. At a signal the children imitate the sound their animal makes. They move round the room, making their sound until they locate their animal matches. Examples are cow, pig, sheep, horse, chicken, dog or cat. Depending on the group size, have five or six of the same animal in a group. This is a fun way to mix the students to form small groups for other activities. 

5. Discuss what constitutes a compliment. For example, say, "Eric, I like the way you take turns. Eric, when I say that, how does that make you feel?" After listening to the response say, "Eric, now you give someone else a compliment. You may think someone is good at running, drawing, being kind, reading, or playing fair." Eric gives a compliment and then the receiver gives one to someone else. The children may want to respond with, "Thank you, I'm glad you like the way I..." 

A variation is to have the children sit in a circle. Start by giving a compliment to a child next to you, who in turn gives one to the child next to him or her. The compliments continue around the circle. Another variation is to pass out a class list to each child and have them write complimentary comments by each name. After the compliments are handed in, the teacher lists the names of each student on a separate sheet of paper along with what everyone said about him or her. An advantage of this method is that any inappropriate comments can be deleted. These positive peer statements nurture feelings of self-worth and good will in students. 

6. Have a child pick out a crayon and hide his or her eyes as another child places it on something of the same color. (Make sure the crayon is in sight.) Then ask the child to open his or her eyes and walk around the room. Together, the children and teacher say "cold" if the child walks away from the crayon, "warm" if the child goes toward it, and "hot" it the child walks close to it. The student continues to look until he or she finds the crayon. Then everyone claps and two new children are chosen. 

A variation is to choose any item in the room and have the students guess what it is by asking questions that can be answered by a "yes" or "no." For example: "Is it bigger than the desk?" "Is it on the floor?" "Is it blue?" The child who guesses the object is the next person to pick an item. After playing the guessing game, discuss how the children benefited from each other's help and that the "no" answers assisted them in finding the answer as much as the "yes" answers. 

7. Have the students form a circle and throw a soft ball of yarn or cloth to one another. Begin with the letter A and the first person says a word that begins with that letter. The ball is tossed to another child who says a word that begins with B. The ball continues to be tossed around the circle until the end of the alphabet. If a child cannot think of a word for his or her letter, he or she may call on another child for help. The child with the ball repeats the word provided and the game continues. If a child throws the ball in a wild manner, he or she is out of the game. Variations are to have the students name animals, fruits and vegetables, names of people, nouns or verbs that begin with the letters of the alphabet. This can also be played while the children are sitting at desks or tables. Remind the students to throw the ball to children who have not had a turn. 

8. Have the children partner with another child they do not know well. The students pretend to be reporters and interview each other. When both children are finished, ask them to introduce each other to the class or small group. Or have them write a paragraph about their partner to be read to the class and/or published in a class book or newspaper. Say, "When you interview another child, ask the question, listen, remember and/or write down what your partner says." 

The following are possible questions that may be included in the interview. A variation is to have the students brainstorm their own questions.
  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What food don't you like?
  • What do you enjoy doing most?
  • What do you like about school?
  • What don't you like about school?
  • How many brothers do you have?
  • How many sisters do you have?
  • Who is someone you like?
  • If you watch television, what show do you like?
  • What kind of art do you like to do?
  • Where would you like to go on a trip?
  • What is your hobby or interest?
  • What sport do you like?
  • What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
  • How are you most like your mom, dad, or another adult?
  • If you were going to live alone on an island and could only take one thing with you, what would you take?
  • What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?
  • When was the last time you were angry?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What was the best thing anyone ever said to you?
  • What was the best thing anyone ever gave you?
  • When are you the happiest?


Here we can create a number of quizzes, questionnaires, problem-solving activities, role-plays .. to check our understanding of the issue of compliments.

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  1. An expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation.
  2. A formal act of civility, courtesy, or respect.
  3. compliments Good wishes; regards: Extend my compliments to your parents.

tr.v., -ment·ed, -ment·ing, -ments.

  1. To pay a compliment to.
  2. To show fondness, regard, or respect for by giving a gift or performing a favor.

[French, from Italian complimento, from Spanish cumplimiento, from cumplir, to complete, from Latin complēre, to fill up

also: complement (a confusing word of a different meaning)

Who's paying a compliment to who?

Can you think of the context/consequence/s? 



Nothing makes people so worthy of compliments as receiving them.
One is more delightful for being told one is delightful -- just as
one is more angry for being told one is angry.

Katherine F. Gerould

Fish for no compliments; they are generally

caught in shallow water.

D. Smith

There is a sad tendency in our world today
for persons to cut one another down.  Did you
ever realize that it does not take very much
in the way of brainpower to make remarks that
may wound another?  Try the opposite of that.
Try handing out compliments.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Praise is warming and desirable . . . what the human race lives on
like bread.  But praise is an earned thing.  It has to be deserved
like an honorary degree or a hug from a child.
A compliment is manna, a free gift.
Phyllis McGinley
FINGER UP mages.jpg

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