Much like the compact disc, the kind word is an endangered species. But while I’m perfectly happy with digital music files, the compliment needs to be saved. If for no other reason than it will improve your dating life. And isn’t that reason enough?

If you wish to compliment women in the way they’ll appreciate most, it’s time to think like a woman and not like a man.

As I see it, the nineties and the decades preceding them constituted a golden age for compliments. Then the oughts came along and Internet dating became a thing and blog posts started popping up about the things men said to women that they thought were nice but that women felt were disrespectful. And then men began to feel like they were swimming in an ocean of uncertainty and also like women were maybe a little scarier than they’d realized. So many figured that the best thing to do was keep their mouths shut about things they might not have before.

Additionally, there’s a certain class of man who believes that if he gives a woman a compliment, it might cause that woman to think He Really Likes Her, thereby setting off some cavewoman-like impulse to tie him down and halt his quest to spread his seed. Which is a shame, because when you tell a girl that you appreciate something she just said or that her eyes are pretty in that particular light, she is actually not going to confuse this remark with a marriage proposal or instantly convert herself into a ball and chain that will latch onto your ankle. You’ll just make her happy and maybe feel good about yourself since you’re the sort of guy who makes women happy, and those good feelings will spread and come back to you in waves. Everyone wins!

Of course, it also takes self-confidence to give a compliment, and that’s sort of lacking in many men—and people—today. They’ll think all the flattering thoughts in the world about a person, tell they’ll tell their friend, barista or co-worker, but not actually let the object of their admiration know. They’ll say they didn’t grow up in a family that exchanged a lot of compliments, like that is some sort of excuse. Haven’t some of the greatest rewards of your life come from stepping out of your comfort zone? If you’re ready to make a change, keep reading…

“Baby, I just want you to know you take the most beautiful stock photos I’ve ever seen.”

I have a male friend who’s excellent at giving compliments, and I’ve at last figured out what he does so well: he says particular things that women actually want to hear. He also has a somewhat gruff exterior, so when he gives a compliment, you can’t help but feel that he really means it.

I am by no means advocating that all men become surly so that women will more fully believe their words. But if you wish to compliment women in the way that they’ll appreciate most, it’s time to think like a woman and not like a man.

It would be easy to say that a beautiful woman will be most pleased by a compliment about her intelligence, while a brainy woman wants to be told how hot she is. But this would only be true if people—women—were always logical, and I can’t be the first to tell you that they’re not. That said, what all women do appreciate is what my friend provides: specificity. And he always does it in the moment.

If he says I inspire him, he elucidates exactly why, and it’s often in reference to something that I just said or did. And maybe there’s a just a touch of exaggeration, too. When I recently lost a bit of weight, he insisted that I weigh 95 pounds now. I do not in any way weigh 95 pounds. But those words made me feel like I looked remarkably different. You may call me shallow, damaged or teetering on the edge of an eating disorder, but the goal—making me feel good—was achieved.

One caveat: giving compliments, like most things, is less effective the more that you do it. In other words, do not become a complimenting machine, praising a woman’s hair, teeth, smile and personality at every turn. The less you dole them out, the more they mean.

But before we worry about that, let’s get you on the road. Just challenge yourself this way: when you think a nice thought about a woman you’re chatting with, why not say it out loud? You’re not going to get slapped (unless you’re really out of bounds.) You’ll probably just take her by surprise and get her attention in a way you haven’t before. And then, my friend, the sky is the limit…