How to Say Congratulations (Even When You’d Really Rather Not)

An illustration of a balloon that says,

Congratulating others is easy and fun, right? Like when your friend worked really hard and got that awesome job making twice the money you do? Or when your co-worker landed the big promotion that should’ve been yours…but his dad plays golf with the boss? Well okay, it’s not always easy and fun. Occasionally, we find ourselves mostly happy but partly jealous of someone. (Or mostly annoyed and partly super ticked off. Umm…you get the idea.)

Regardless of the situation, you’ll probably never kick yourself later for behaving graciously. So the next time you find yourself in a decidedly un-congratulatory mood, take a few deep breaths and follow these simple steps to get through it being as uber-classy as you know you are.

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Remember your training  

“Do unto others blah blah blah.” Turns out your kindergarten teacher who smelled funny was right. It feels good when people acknowledge our achievements. In fact, it makes us feel pretty darn special. Which makes it a good thing to do for others. Period.

Lighten up  

Try to get some positive energy flowing. Watch one of those videos with laughing babies. Listen to a favorite song. Do what you need to do. You could just stay grumpy, but honestly—laughing babies are funny.


You don’t have to put on a puppet show (as awesome as that would be). Simple things—clicking “like” on a boast post or saying “Congratulations!” as you cross paths—will probably work just fine. And skip the whole “I’m-so-happy-for-you” bit. Insincerity is like that thing in the back of your fridge. Everyone can smell it.

Treat yourself  

Hey—you did it! And next time you find yourself in a similar situation, you’ll already be a total pro. So go ahead and order extra caramel in your coffee or watch an extra episode of that reality show you’re ashamed you like. You most definitely earned it.

Keep in mind that your turn’s coming  

As someone famous possibly said, “Not every day can be your day in the spotlight.” But one day it will be. When that happens, you’ll want people to congratulate and celebrate you. And chances are that most of them will be absolutely, totally and completely happy to.


Melissa Woo is a Hallmark writer and reality show enthusiast. She also reads a lot, travels the world and takes fish oil supplements to counteract the negative effects of reality TV on her brain. (So, like, don't judge.)