It isn’t every day that one gets to hear a truly meaningful and uplifting compliment—especially one that’s completely unexpected. Whether from a total stranger or from someone very dear and special, surprise compliments can usher in a whole new level of joy. Here are 42 stories of some of the greatest unexpected compliments that the people of the internet have received.
1. Spreading the Love Around
I don’t have a lot of coworkers. There are about 13 of them altogether in my office, and I only ever work directly with about four or five. One time, when I was in the break room, I overheard a few of them talking about a coworker that they all didn’t like, saying that she was rude to everyone. Then, I heard one of them say “She’s pretty nice to [insert my name here], though.”
The others then all started saying “Well, everyone likes [insert my name here], it’s pretty hard not to!” It was hard to walk back in there after that and not just be like “I LOVE YOU TOO, THANKS GUYS!!”
2. Progress Report
I had come home from college for the weekend and my parents thought that I was fast asleep upstairs. I overheard them complimenting each other on how they “had done a good job” of raising me. That felt pretty good to hear!
I was walking to the bus stop the other day in my new raincoat, otherwise pretty much the same as always. I wasn’t even wearing makeup or anything. A much younger woman was walking by, and stopped unexpectedly to say “You’re so pretty!” Me? Who, me? Yup, she was talking to me. YESSS!! Such a nice young woman!
4. Telephone Tag
Some once told me that my voice sounds amazing on the telephone. I didn’t even know that a “telephone voice” was a thing, but that compliment was just so nice and unexpected that I couldn’t help but be really happy after hearing it!
5. A Work of Art
I worked really hard on creating an art project for my first-grade class. During the presentation, I heard one student say to another, “This is the best project that we’ve had all year!” A small thing, yes, but it made me so happy that I still remember it clearly all these years later.
One time, I went to a country bar that I clearly didn’t fit the part for. I stayed for a bit with my friends and, when we decided to leave, a drunk blonde cowgirl grabbed me by the arm and said, “I just have to tell you that you are truly beautiful, and you are on a level that none of the people here can match. That’s why they’re giving you dirty looks.” I awkwardly thanked that angel and left in a daze of disbelief and confidence.
7. Found in Translation
I heard a girl compliment my looks to her friends in my second language. She never figured out that I could understand what she was saying. I wouldn’t even consider myself attractive, so it was really nice to hear!
8. A Coming of Age Story
Last winter, I was waiting to meet a friend in a local coffee shop. I’m 22 years old, but people always think that I look way younger than I am (usually around the 14 to 16 range)—so I always feel kind of self-conscious about my appearance. My friend was running late. Meanwhile, there was a guy who appeared to be in his mid to late 20s sitting at the table across from me.
He kept looking at me, looking around, and looking back at his phone. I figured he was supposed to be meeting someone and they were running late as well. Finally, my friend shows up and sits down beside me at my table. The guy then gets up and walks over. I expected him to say something to my friend. Instead, he looks straight at me and says, “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve seen you around and I think you’re really beautiful.”
I was so caught off guard. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before, because everyone always treats me like a kid. I stammered thanks, red in the face, and he walked away.
9. Striking a Chord
My old band was scheduled to play in a club one night many years ago. Before the show, I was standing at the bar ordering a drink when I happened to overhear two people discussing the band at a nearby table. Apparently, they had heard that the guitarist (i.e. me) was amazing!
10. Trick or Compliment
This past Halloween, I dressed up as an angel. I had a cute dress, wings, and was all sparkly from dousing myself with glitter. I was at my cousin’s apartment and her neighbor came by to get one of the candy bags that we were handing out. I handed one of them to my cousin to give to her. She said thanks, then turned to me and said, “I can’t tell who you are, but you’re beautiful!” and, as someone who never hears that, that really made my night!
11. What’s Cooking?
At a party, I overheard my boyfriend in the other room bragging to the others about my pasta and my cooking in general, telling them they should be jealous that they don’t get to eat my food regularly. It made me happy. I know he likes my cooking, but hearing him telling others about it when I was not in the room was a big confidence boost for me.
12. By George!
I was visiting my old workplace after having left a couple of years prior. As I was walking away from an old employee, I overheard a new person ask who I was. She replied “That’s George! He is the reason that I was able to become a manager!” I am an HR manager by trade. Hearing that almost made me cry on the spot!
13. The Scoop
I’m a journalist. When I was working a news internship at a local TV station many years ago, I was once asked to go out and do some quick “man on the street” interviews on the other side of town. After we got back to the newsroom, I heard the camera guy (a veteran of over 30 years who has worked with some of the best reporters in my city) say to our executive producer, “You know, that kid’s a real journalist!” That gave me the biggest confidence boost ever as an intern. I’m now employed full time at that news outlet, as of four days ago.
14. I Want My Mummy
This one happened to my college professor, not to me. This professor researched Egyptian mummified cats. One time, he was back at the British Museum looking at some cats, and they had a staff shift while he was still in there. He started talking to the new guy on his way out and the guy says to him, “If you’re interested in mummified cats, you should really talk to Professor So and So. He’s the world’s expert in mummified cats.” My professor was speechless for a moment, and then said: “I am Professor So and So!”
And that’s the story of how my professor learned that he was the world’s expert in mummified cats.
15. The More You Know!
Several weeks ago, I overheard the technician from the neighboring lab to mine telling some fellow grad students “She (as in me) knows so much, I am astonished!” I’m still hyped up about it!
16. Can’t Deny the Truth
In a post-breakup argument with my ex, she angrily said “I wish I could tell you that you’re a bad person, but you’re not. You’re actually a really great person, but I hate you anyway!” Thank youuuu!!!
17. A Great Way to End Off
I was once on a conference call with one of our clients, and they didn’t realize that I was on it. They probably hadn’t heard my voice since I was just there to take notes, so they had incorrectly concluded that I wasn’t there at all. At one point during this call, the client said, “It’s a real shame that [insert my name here] isn’t on this call, as I’d like him to know that he has really positively changed the working life of many people and that his work was very much appreciated.” I had to walk away and cry, as it was my last day on the job.
18. I’m a Believer
I once overheard the school counselor telling a really mean teacher that I’m sweet and have a big heart. She then said “By the way, she’s really funny too! Stop being so hateful and you’ll see why everyone loves her so much.” I had tears in my eyes because she was one of the few people who always believed in me, my persona, and my intentions.
19. Third Day’s a Charm
I just started a new job last week. I am still very nervous about the work system and am hoping that I won’t mess anything up. I work at the front desk in a rather busy gym. On just my third day there, a nice girl was leaving and said to me: “You know, you are the nicest gal to have ever worked here! You are always so peppy and raring to go! I am glad you are here!” It made my day, and helped me feel at least a bit more comfortable with the new job!
20. A Friendly Opinion
My girlfriend told me that her friends all thought I was very attractive and in really good shape. As someone who has self-esteem issues with regards to my looks, that remains the one compliment that still cheers me up every time I think about it.
21. Speak Softly, and Carry a Lot of Lotion!
An old crush of mine once told me that I had “soft skin.” I was kind of stunned. No one had ever said that to me before. I mean, I have to use mountains of lotion every day for crying out loud!
22. Finders Keepers
I once accidentally saw a text that a friend of the girl I had just started dating had sent her saying “He’s a keeper!” referring to me!
23. These Eyes
I was paying for a pizza for supper one evening. As the girl at the till was tallying the order, she cut herself off mid-sentence to say, “Wow, your eyes are gorgeous!” I turned redder than the tomato sauce.
24. Fun in the Sun
I once had my sunhat complimented by some skater or surfer type dude while at the beach. It was far out!
25. The Makeup Is Always Greener on the Other Side
Have you ever gotten a compliment in the very moment when you were expecting it the least? Just the other day, I was helping out a woman around my age whose makeup was beautiful and flawless. In the middle of the process, she just looked straight at me and decided to let me know that she thought my eyebrows were amazing.
I was so taken aback by that and couldn’t believe she was really being serious! I had been feeling so bummed that whole day and, to add to that, I was not wearing any makeup so I didn’t feel very good about my appearance. My eyebrows, in particular, had been unkempt as hell, as I was in the process of growing them out at the time.
The comment, especially coming from that particular person, was just totally surprising to me, and it 100% made my day a whole lot better. It just kind of makes me realize how critical I can be of myself and certain features I have, while other people can see the good in it.
26. Hitting the Nail on the Head
Some lady I saw at the grocery store just stopped to compliment my finger and toenail polish when I was shopping a few days ago. It was the first time that I had ever done them myself, and it made me feel really nice.
27. A Most Unusual Day
I once had a really cool teacher in high school. She was my favorite! One day, I came into class early and she was talking with me about some work when, all of a sudden, she stopped mid-sentence and told me that I looked pretty. It was strange because I was just wearing my usual clothes that she had seen many times before. Just a dinky sweater and leggings. Perhaps I was having a good hair day? Nonetheless, I was quite happy for the rest of the day after that!
28. Get Your Skin in the Game
When I was in college, one of my roommate’s friends told her that I have great skin. I have literally had acne since I was in fourth grade, so I definitely was not expecting to ever hear that said about me. I definitely appreciated it though!
29. Forehead About It!
I have a huge forehead that I have been very self-conscious about it for a long time. Earlier this year, I had minor surgery to remove non-life threatening cancer from my forehead, and the nurse who was assisting with the procedure said, “You have a gorgeous forehead!” to me at one point. It would have been a very weird thing to say under any other circumstances, so it was something I had definitely never heard before and it made me super happy.
30. Put On a Happy Face
One night at work, a patron stopped me and told me that I had an infectious smile that made his night. I have never been particularly proud of my smile and was not at all expecting the compliment. It did, however, make my night in turn!
31. Secret Admirer
On an anonymous “confessions” page on Facebook, someone wrote a post saying that I had really inspired them with my work ethic and determination.
32. On the Line
I worked in a call center for a while and we were asked never to hang up first when speaking to a customer. One day, after setting a lady up with a cheaper subscription than what she had before, she didn’t hang up her phone properly and I overheard her say, “That lady was really lovely!” I had to go away from the calls for a minute because it made me really emotional. That job was really tough, so it was nice to hear that I wasn’t becoming a jerk.
33. How Much Is That Compliment in the Window?
I used to be a drive-thru cashier for a local Arby’s. I would usually run it by myself and, one day, it was clear to everyone that I looked dead tired. It was in the middle of the summer and we had been busy as hell. It was getting around to closing time when I greeted this older female customer at the window and the first thing she said to me was, “Wow, what I wouldn’t give to have eyes like yours!”
I don’t know exactly why, but that comment just seemed really genuine and totally made my night. It completely changed my mood for the rest of the day. I still remember it vividly, even though it was many months ago at this point.
34. You Can Count on Me
My friend once told me that I’m one of the only people that they talk about their feelings with and that they really appreciate how caring I am. I’m glad that he trusts me and feels comfortable enough to open up around me.
35. The Voice of Reason
“Your voice is really smooth and calming.” This was said to me by someone that I just know casually, and it came completely out of the blue. I have always had doubts about my voice since it’s so deep, so hearing that from someone who didn’t even know me that well felt great.
36. Lights, Camera, Action!
In my first year of film school, I had the Dean of the film department, Randy, as a professor for my live television production class. It was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken. I felt like I was constantly just treading in deep waters and barely managing to keep my head above the surface. It was horrible.
On the last day of class, Randy, who never complimented anyone, commented that he expected great things from me post-grad. I was totally caught off guard by that! I thanked him, and then just immediately ran to my car and cried. Over the years, he was a super great mentor and shaking his hand at graduation is one of the best memories of my life.
37. A Tale of Two Roommates
I was having a girl over and it was my first time dating in many years. My female roommate who I am super close with was there as well and knew all about my situation. When I left the room for a brief moment, I accidentally overheard my roommate say “I know he’s shy and a little awkward at first, but give it a shot! He’s super sweet and really funny once he’s comfortable, and he’s definitely worth the effort!” Hearing that gave me a huge and much-needed boost, especially since I struggle with confidence and usually don’t like myself. Thanks, roomie. I owe you one!
38. That’s His Way of Saying “I Love You”
My dad doesn’t really compliment people very much. He’s the quiet type that usually hides behind jokes and sarcasm. However, I once overheard him talking to an old friend of his at a Christmas party, saying; “That’s my kid right there. Pure rock n’ roll, just like his old man! He never gives up, just keeps steaming on like a freight train. I tell ya, some kids just have that fire, you know?” Hearing that meant the world to me!
39. It’s Only a Paper Moon
I was an English major in university. My ex-boyfriend, whom I had been dating for three years, broke up with me a week before my final papers were due. For one of my classes that happened to have been taught by my favorite teacher of all time, I had to stay up all night because my anxiety was making it hard for me to write the paper.
After I finished writing it, I had to catch a bus to the city that my school was in (about an hour and a half long trip). As I was handing in the paper to the teacher, she handed me back another paper that she had recently finished grading and said the words, “You write like an academic!” That was hands down one of the best compliments I have ever received and was definitely much needed at the time. Her opinion was one that I really thought really highly of back then, so it meant a lot to me to hear something like that coming from her.
40. Put Me In, Coach!
In high school, I was a decent athlete and I tore my ACL just before my senior year. Our team had a preseason tournament and we were getting crushed. I was just in my street clothes in the stands and most people there didn’t realize who I was. I was talking to a coach from another team about the game and he goes “Well, you don’t lose a player like [my name] and get better!” I was too embarrassed to tell him who I was, so I just nodded and agreed.
41. Tres Bien!
I was hospitalized for six months after a suicide attempt as a teenager. I had to go to school in the hospital. I love languages and every week a French teacher would come in and give me French lessons. She gave me an essay to write for homework and I wrote about my illness. I overheard her telling my nurse that it was a joy to correct my work. It might not seem like much, but to a 17-year-old girl who felt totally worthless, it meant the whole world. I wish that I could somehow tell that teacher that I’m almost finished my degree in modern languages now.
42. Good Coffee, Bad Coffee
I always try to be polite to anyone that I encounter in retail, be they cashiers, servers, or anyone else along those lines. I really hate the fact that people in that type of industry are so often mistreated and that people are so rude to them a lot of the time. One time, I went into a Tim Horton’s cafe and ordered myself a coffee. I was super nice to the young lady cashier.
All of a sudden, as soon as she had finished taking my order, she just burst out into tears and started crying uncontrollably. I asked if she was okay. She then proceeded to tell me that this was only her second day on the job and that every single customer she had spoken to so far had been rude to her due to her still being a bit slow with things.
She said that I was the first person who had actually been nice to her. It had clearly hit her very hard, due to her being just 16 years old and just beginning her very first job. It made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside to be told that my small effort of kindness had actually made a positive difference in someone’s life. Please be nice to others, everyone!