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Occasionally, I meet someone who is working hard. He looks so tired and needs to hear some kind words and I don't know what to say. Some time ago, I asked this question of a native speaker and she replied:

Tell him “What a great job!”

Maybe I couldn’t represent my question properly because I didn’t see that the above formula had decreased his exhaustion in doing the job.

What can we say to somebody who looks tired doing a job, in order to soothe his pain?

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The lady who advised you probably meant "You're doing a great job" – izx Jun 21 '12 at 16:08
up vote 7 down vote accepted

In addition to izx's comment, keep up the good work is often used as a phrase of encouragement and to keep people motivated.

You could also substitute any of the following for good -- great, fantastic, exceptional, &c depending upon how impressed you are with their work or how much encouragement you want to give to them.

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You could say, "Hang in there", which is an informal exhortation, basically meant to encourage someone: "keep on doing what you're doing, and don't be discouraged, even in the face of adversity, hardship, opposition, or fatigue".

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Thanks all of you. Thank you for your time. – Babak S. Jun 22 '12 at 6:26

This is often done in a somewhat joking manner, e.g.

"Good job, don't work too hard!" with a smile and a chuckle.

Also:

"Nice work, make sure you take a break!"

or

"Wow, that's great, it must have taken forever" (can imply mucho time spend already - sometimes).

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"You're doing God's work." Even though the word "God" is used, it's not really religious; I hear it used by religious and non-religious people. The meaning is more like, "You're doing important work." It soothes the pain indirectly, by implying that the work is worthwhile and appreciated.

It can be used to encourage someone doing something frustrating or physically/emotionally draining, often something selfless (taking care of an elderly person) or far beyond the skills of the speaker (performing surgery). "Keep it up, you're doing God's work."

It can be used to express empathy and lighten the mood. You walk into a room where Alice is cleaning up her child's vomit. "Hey, Alice... oh... you're doing God's work."

It can also be used sarcastically, when you think someone is wasting their time. Bob is replying to racist trolls on reddit, trying to debate them with long, well-thought-out comments full of logic and reason. "Wow, Bob... you're doing God's work, man."

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