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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default Complimenting people using character descriptions

    Um, that's probably awkwardly titled but I can't think of another way to explain it.

    I know there are plenty of threads about complimenting people around, but I'm wondering about a specific type of compliment.

    You can compliment someone's clothes or eyes or a job well done on an important project. But what about making "character compliments"?

    One of my friends was told she is "docile and even-tempered" as a compliment. Being gracious, docile and even-tempered she thanked them and then came seething to me because she felt like she was being described as a pet.

    Is it safer to stick to factual compliments than compliments about someone's internal qualities? It seems to me that giving a character compliment, i.e. "You're a generous person," tends to strike gold more often than "I like your shoes" but when you give a character compliment that contradicts someone's concept of self, you backfire horribly.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
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  2. #2
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    In situations where I compliment the character attributes of someone I know, I find sometimes I take the easy way out, and do it in a very Fe-violating way (sort of like a child who doesn't know better). Usually it goes well: they feel great, and I like that I've correctly perceived something about them that they identify with.

    When it goes wrong, instead of feeling offended they tend to pet my head and tell me that one day I'll learn how this social interaction thing works. Really, I know how it works, I'm just relying on a tried-and-true method from when I actually sucked at this stuff in junior high.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
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  3. #3
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    It can only backfire if the compliment was intended to seduce the object.

    If the compliment is simply unrestrainable appreciation of a quality found in another (with detection of an ulterior motive of course discluding it from this scenario), then the joke's really on the individual taking offense because they're not being open-minded. They are seeing the qualities being commented upon through their biased lense of life experience and are thus missing out on an opportunity to see themselves in a positive new light via the perception of another.

  4. #4
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    What's interesting to me is that while the positive character descriptions are graciously appreciated, the negative or personally incongruent ones are devastating to self-esteem. Psych workers are trained specifically to avoid labeling people as of being "bad character," and those messages in childhood ("You are a liar" vs "You lied to me") can screw someone up into their adult years.

    And then, in my particular situation, I had some comments from people over the years reaffirming a set of my roles that was devastating to me and not positive in the least, just due to the specifics of my identity. Of course, they never realized it; they were just trying to be kind and encouraging.

    So I think it's just a land mine.

    You can be more specific and confine it to the event in question: for example, you can tell someone "That was a generous thing you did" rather than "You are a generous person" or "I like your shoes." And if you think they are a generous person, you can say, "I often see you doing so many generous things and it is so much appreciated."

    I think the word "docile" has good and bad connotations.
    Specific word choice can impact perception.
    I think "even-tempered" was better, or "easy to work with," or "open to discussion," or some other phrase.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Im a Charmer. It comes natural and is the flip side to when I go into an incisive mode. Really I use generalities all of the time and they work well. I however prefer to combine the specific with the general. (i.e. I noticed you giving that homeless person some money [specific]. It reminded me you are such a generous and caring person.[general]) I also make it a point to be honest in the substance of my complements. The power of Charm feels good and makes others feel good too. The specific/general makes a nice 1-2-punch.

    the word in that statement reminded is the softener and allows the ability to backpedal when the person is the type of person who cant take a complement.

    I have spidy sense on those who can't take a complement and try and avoid them. That being said I don't think I would like to be called "docile" either (sounds more like a backhanded complement). Personally its a good policy to view/respond to even backhanded complement as if it were a real complement...reframing like this can even change the perception of the original speaker.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

  6. #6
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    [totally on a side note, when people tell me that being a stay at home mom is the hardest work in the world I want to ask them to pat me on the head. How stupid do they think I am, of course it's not the hardest work! It can be draining and boring and fulfilling and fun but not the hardest work.]

    I do think you need to be careful what you compliment (or even put down) because people value different things. Until you know what they value it's hard to make a worthwhile comment about them.

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    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    ^yes, very much agree, eliciting values of the recipient of the complement is often the best precursor to crafting the complement.

    For example I would say from the above statement that Elaur places honesty and sincerity higher up on her value hierarchy than most.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spamtar View Post
    For example I would say from the above statement that Elaur places honesty and sincerity higher up on her value hierarchy than most.
    "Elaur, I noticed you emoting such honesty and sincerity in your post, it reminded me that you are such an honest and sincere person!"
    ^^^ one problem with inept practice of variations of reflective listening, lol

    .... yeah, if I heard that too much, I'd strangle someone too.


    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  9. #9
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    "Elaur, I noticed you emoting such honesty and sincerity in your post, it reminded me that you are such an honest and sincere person!"
    ^^^ one problem with inept practice of variations of reflective listening, lol

    .... yeah, if I heard that too much, I'd strangle someone too.


    Grrr well there are aesthetic touches as well.:steam:


    Ha ha your statement Jen reminds me of a communications class taught by an uptight ISTJ I took. The basic point of the class was to avoid generalities like "You make me so mad", "Do I? you piss me off too". Instead we were taught to paraphrase everything to other person said. So when someone said "You make me so mad" the "correct answer was "I see, so what you are saying is that things do not create an environment for a positive mind set, is that what you are saying..." Drove me nuts. She gave me a B instead of an A because of multiple absences.:rolli:
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

  10. #10
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spamtar View Post
    your statement Jen reminds me of a communications class taught by an uptight ISTJ I took. The basic point of the class was to avoid generalities like "You make me so mad", "Do I? you piss me off too". Instead we were taught to paraphrase everything to other person said. So when someone said "You make me so mad" the "correct answer was "I see, so what you are saying is that things do not create an environment for a positive mind set, is that what you are saying..." Drove me nuts. She gave me a B instead of an A because of multiple absences.:rolli:
    "I see, so you do not seem to derive a pleasurable experience from attending my class, Mr. Spamtar, is this what you mean to convey....? FINE. I'M DROPPPING YUOR GRADE!!!1!!1!"

    <typos permitted to ride for maximum mirth impact>

    Seriously, though, while communication tools such as these are helpful for avoiding large gaffs, they can also be abused and contribute to even worse forms of communication.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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