Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment and Therapy Social Skills Giving Compliments When You Have Social Anxiety Disorder By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 01, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Compliments should be sincere. Pixabay / PublicDomainPictures / 18043 Images Compliments are less likely to be given by people who suffer from social anxiety than those who are naturally comfortable in social situations. However, by learning the rules of giving good compliments, and putting them into practice daily, you can become just as adept at giving praise. Giving compliments is an important social skill to learn because it is a great way to start conversations, develop social bonds and reduce anxiety about communicating. 9 Steps to Giving Great Compliments Don't give out compliments randomly. You should genuinely believe the compliment or it will come across as insincere. Give specific rather than general compliments. Instead of "Your kitchen looks great," say something like, "Your kitchen looks great, I really like your new cabinetry and hardware." Just as in receiving compliments, giving compliments helps you start a conversation. You might add in, "Where did you get the cabinets from" or "Who installed your kitchen?" Consider the setting and your relationship with the person to make sure that the compliment is appropriate. Comments of a personal nature should only be offered to close friends in private settings. Use creative and unusual words instead of everyday ones. Which would stay with you longer—"Your new dress is really nice" or "Your new dress is fabulous! I love the fabric, it is really eye-catching!" Take opportunities to compliment character traits rather than appearance, as these types of compliments are rarely heard. For example, compliment a mother on her compassion for her children or a teacher on his ability to keep students motivated. Be willing to give constructive criticism. Compliments mean more when the other person knows that you aren't afraid to also be honest about faults. Don't be afraid to compliment people in authority. People in power tend to receive fewer compliments and you might be pleasantly surprised at the response you receive—the person will probably welcome the positive feedback. When complimenting someone with low self-esteem, it may be better to avoid inflated praise and to compliment behavior rather than personal characteristics. Research has shown that when children with low self-esteem are given inflated praise or praise about their personal characteristics, it tends to backfire, making them worry about future failures or avoid future challenges. Once you have mastered the art of giving compliments, you may find that you are also better at gracefully receiving compliments. Remember, whether giving or receiving, compliments should always be a positive experience. Research on Compliments and Social Anxiety Disorder In one small study of 17 individuals with generalized social phobia, it was shown that those with the disorder had physiological reactions to negative comments (criticism) but not to positive or neutral comments. While you can't control what others say to you—why not consider controlling what you say to yourself? Negative thoughts are not that different from criticism from others. Think of it this way: every time you think a negative thought about yourself, you are potentially causing yourself distress. Instead, try thinking positive or neutral thoughts about yourself to promote better emotional stability and well-being. Catch yourself every time you have a negative thought about yourself, and replace it with a positive or neutral one. While at first, this might feel awkward, over time it will become more automatic. How to Avoid Giving the Worst Compliments 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Blair K, Geraci M, Devido J, et al. Neural response to self- and other referential praise and criticism in generalized social phobia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(10):1176-1184. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.10.1176 Additional Reading Brummelman E, Sander T, Geertjan O, Bram O, Marcel A, Brad B. On feeding those hungry for praise: person praise backfires in children with low self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143, no. 1 (2014): 9–14. doi:10.1037/a0031917 Brummelman E et al. That's not just beautiful--that's incredibly beautiful!": the adverse impact of inflated praise on children with low self-esteem. Psychol Science. 2014;25(3):728-735. doi: 10.1177/0956797613514251 Trunk P. Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. New York: Business Plus; 2007. By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Social Anxiety Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.