You may have the best of intentions, but you may want to consider checking yourself before passing compliments on friends and family.
“You are such a strong person!”
When someone is going through something tough, you probably want to express your support and your confidence in their ability to handle it. Unfortunately saying this just calls attention to the fact that their life really stinks at the moment without adding anything helpful.
More so, sometimes people don’t want to be “strong” or they don’t feel like they can handle their challenges and this comment can make them feel even less adequate because they’re not doing what they’re “supposed” to do.
“Hey, you’re on time!”
When you congratulate chronically late friends on making it on time you may think you’re rewarding good behaviour but it may have the opposite effect. You’re just pointing out that lateness is their norm and calling attention to that. This also can come across as condescending.
“Your new hairstyle makes you look so much younger!”
People love getting compliments on a new look but when you add on anything extra you run the risk of pointing out that they looked worse before; and with this particular statement, you’re saying their old hairstyle made them look old. Just stick to the compliment, there’s no need to elaborate.
“I’m so impressed that you are handling the kids so well!”
Telling your spouse you’re so impressed with how they parent in a general way can make it seem like you’re surprised they are able to manage at all. This is especially true when it’s the primary parent (often the mom), “complimenting” the other parent (often the dad).
It’s fine to compliment specific things—for instance, “That was great how you handled that tantrum so patiently”—but steer clear of general platitudes.