Never lie, but compliment people on the things they care about that you are impressed by.
There is often a physical externality that is superficial — the sum of the labor involved, be it an impressive deadlift, a house, a business sale, a body. But those externalities are frankly a sign of the lengthy, arduous process of achieving that end. The tip of the iceberg.
Dive deeper than “you’re funny,” “impressive lift,” “nice house”.
The process itself, how they got there, tends to matter most to us (and if it doesn’t and their eyes are just set on the house/car/wife/son, that’s a sign of an obsessive and unhealthy mind). A rigorous diet, sacrificing social pleasures like drinking, strenuous max-effort training, and a consistency in training is what produces that deadlift. That impressive deadlift is a product of (sometimes) years of effort.
See through the ‘end result’ and look deeper into the traits that bring that change about. Compliment those efforts, see their challenges, the sacrifices, the work.
Even a hilarious joke, a great story, the perfect pause and delivery; those are skills mastered through time and practice, be it an unconscious process or a conscious one.
So relay genuine compliments to your friends, family, and colleagues. When reaching out to a new public figure, map out the path that they have ridden to get your attention, show them you see them for their journey and where they’ve arrived. Both are laudable.
And when someone is obsessed over the “success” of their own luck, this is a great flag to watch yourself and their behavior; often times these people have no idea how to work hard over a long time to achieve greatness. Instead they get handed a ribbon (house, good looks, intergenerational wealth) and are frankly worse to wear for it. They have a high pillar they were born on with no foundation; compassionately avoid these people. They didn’t choose the hand they are dealt, but tend to squander the opportunity put before them in toxic, entitled, and ultimately unsatisfying ways.
Hear, listen, and feel how people talk about themselves. The things they are proud of. And ponder them, really sit with them. If you admire that trait, the journey to develop it, or the humility they have around it, let them know.
“Impressive lift, it must’ve taken a lot of effort and sacrifice and training to make that look so effortless, wow.”
“Your timing and rhythm of storytelling is incredible, I love hearing your stories even if I’ve already know the punchline, I want to cultivate that myself.”
“Your house is incredible, clearly you worked your ass off with your startup to be able to get to where you are today, I’d love to learn how to improve my own skills to develop a business that can get me to where you are today.”
This is the best way to give (and receive) a compliment: noticing what matters most to someone, holding it in your heart and mind, and relaying that pleasure and excitement for them authentically, selflessly.
Doing this practice will help you smash envy and jealousy, feel proud of your own efforts, and build lifelong friends along the way.