Compliment a Woman on Her Hairstyle

Woman with her red hair cut in a bob, at the office
Q: Is it ok to compliment a woman on her new hairstyle? I'm male, and one of my female co-workers got a new haircut. I was about to tell her that I loved her new look, but I didn't because I don't know whether or not it is appropriate to comment on someone's haircut.
Is there etiquette for this situation? I know it's normal in a girl-girl situation to give comments on haircuts, but I think it is different when you give compliments in a married man - married woman situation.

A: It is perfectly OK to compliment a woman on her new hairstyle, especially in cases where the new style is a significant departure from prior styles. When a woman makes a big change, she is usually looking to attract attention and break out of what she considers a rut. Having a positive response to the change is always welcome.
Given that you are referring to interaction between co-workers – and specifically male and female co-workers – you do want to make sure that your compliments are given in a respectful and professional manner. Avoid comments that could be “broader” than simply references to the hair.
In other words, don’t say things like “Wow. You look Hot!” or “You look sexy!” Instead, you should be specific but complimentary. Try saying something like, “You changed your hair. It looks great!” or “Your new hairstyle is beautiful.”
If you’re concerned that even that would be deemed inappropriate in your work environment, ask someone in your Human Resources department how the company wishes you to handle such interactions. I’m pretty sure, that as long as your goal is to let the co-worker know you like the way she’s changed her hair, you’ll be alright.
Photo: Dotchock/Shutterstock
See also:
First impressions
Hairstyles for business women
Why women cut their hair short
When is it time to change your hairstyle?