Who are we kidding. We all love to get compliments every once in a while. It doesn’t matter, if it is about the appearance or our intelligence or something we did great – it’s nice to hear the appreciation of someone else too. Or at least I like to hear it. And even though I put effort into my fitness, my style and my competence primarily for myself and my own ambition, true recognition of it does not only make me happy, but also enhances the value of the person who uttered it – most of the time. To compliment value, one has to be able to recognize value and display value, and, let’s face it, especially between women this is sometimes a difficult topic.
Don’t worry though, this is, right now, not another post on how women should also stand by each other and how their value doesn’t decrease, because they recognize the worth of another, it’s something more fundamental.
There are, in fact, some types of compliments, which aren’t compliments at all. We might not recognize it right away, we might feel flattered at first glance, but we should start distinguishing between real compliments, real appreciation of something, and cheap comments.
While the first can be empowering for us and the person who paid the compliment, the latter is often used to manipulate or even belittle – it’s of good use to look out for the critical ones!
3 compliments to view critically
- Anything that ends with – for a woman – You did this job pretty well for a woman. You wrote this report really well for a woman. You show a surprising understanding of this topic for a woman. This “compliment” plays on one crucial factor – that we are proud, when we are “better” than other women. What does this compliment show though? Nothing else than the lacking respect of that person for the intelligence of women in general. Why shouldn’t this job, report or understanding be done in an expert way, if it is done by a woman? Misogyny shows in many ways and this is a particularly mean one. Never accept being played against other woman, not even for your own ego.
- “I couldn’t/ can’t keep my hands of her” – this compliment is fine in just one single context; while having consensual sex. In any other situation this sentence, which is probably meant to say “She is so beautiful/ sexy/ hot/ …” and in this sense flatter the woman, just once again supports men’s constant whining on how their nature is responsible for inappropriate sexual behavior. I’m not a quibbler. If she’s your woman, if you know she likes hearing this (hell, I like hearing this from my boyfriend), it’ fine. But be aware of what you are saying (or hearing) in any other situation. You can keep your hands off her. Better use another way of telling her she’s beautiful than this.
- The ones that aren’t meant – this one goes for everyone; man to man, woman to woman, woman to man, and every other way you can imagine. It exists between lovers, friends, families. You did it, I did it, I don’t think anyone didn’t do it. But believe me – it is obvious. The expression and the tone of a person who pays a real compliment is quite different to the one who lies. I’m not suggesting that you go around telling people they are ugly or stupid, or whatever you might feel is the truth about them. But if you want to compliment someone, why not do it about something you truly feel worth of a compliment? Maybe you hate the colour of the new boots your colleague is wearing, but it matches great with her scarf. You don’t have to say “I love those boots” or “It’s a great colour”, why not say “You really matched your outfit great today”. It is true and so much more worth than a lie.
Compliments, in theory, are an easy thing. You compliment someone, when you think that something about them, values, style, projects.. is worth appreciating. (If you look closely that is the case with nearly everyone). If you handle compliments this way, you expect to get the same in return – truth and true appreciation. People who value your choices and choose to give you credit for them. As long as thing run smoothly along that agreement, everything is fine.
Sometimes you have to question compliments though, in order to not falsely evaluate other people, or get misconceptions about your own person. Be always aware of the intention of the person and try to figure out what they are really saying. It’s worth being attentive. You might learn something important about others, as well as yourself!