Let’s get one thing straight. Telling someone they look tired is telling someone they look awful. It’s not helpful. Stop saying it. ‘Aw, you look tired,’ with a head tilt and protruding lower lip. Now this might be intended to be supportive; the act of a sympathetic person who is concerned about your mental health/sleeping habits. But let’s not be cute about this. It’s just someone telling you you look like shit. Nobody looks good when they are tired. Nobody feels good when they are tired. Why is this being remarked upon? Not constructive.
Telling someone they look exhausted is a bit more sympathetic. More gracious, somehow. More romantic. Less implication that someone looks bloody awful and more a sweeping observation about their general (tragic) aura. No puffy eyes and wan complexion specificity. A person knows when they are tired, OK? The last thing they need is you pointing it out to them. It’s there for the whole world to see, written all over their face like a dreary sign. If you are dealing with a tired person, hold back. They will not be feeling perky and cheerful and in the mood for some gentle ribbing. That’s fine for hangovers – people expect to be told they look like shit. It’s practically a badge of honour. But tired people don’t have the energy for a commentary, however accurate it may be. They’re tired. And they look like terrible. Do them a favour and talk about something else. Or be honest and just tell them they look terrible. At least then everyone will know where they stand.
Here are 5 things to say to someone who looks totally knackered:
- I know you are tired but you look rather beautiful.
- Wow, extreme tiredness makes your eyes look so blue/green/luminous.
- Being tired is just the worst, is there anything I can do?
- Even when you are tired you are the cleverest, funniest, kindest person I know.
- Coffee, sugar or alcohol?