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  1. #1
    Vulnera Sanentur Coriolis's Avatar
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    Default Why people say nice things

    Will people say nice things to other people just to be polite? I tend to think people are more honest than that. While they may refrain from saying mean or critical things to be polite, or to avoid hurt feelings, they won't go so far as to make up nice things just to be polite, or evem to make another person feel good. In other words, I tend to accept positive comments - about myself or others - at face value since it is easy not to say anything at all.

    Am I wrong about this? What do you do yourself? What have you seen others do?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  2. #2
    ιяяєѕιѕтιвlє Ꮆяαѕρ Luminous's Avatar
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    Question: Do you mean about big, extremely important things specifically or everything?

    Example of what I mean by something not big and extremely important - say a friend got a haircut and it's been pointed out and you're expected to share your opinion. I would say something nice (chances are that there would be something nice to say that was true anyway) even if it wasn't a great haircut. If the friend told me they worried it didn't look good, I'd probably give them a more specific answer where if there was something I thought could be improved, I'd point it out. But I'd still try to be nice about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Will people say nice things to other people just to be polite? I tend to think people are more honest than that. While they may refrain from saying mean or critical things to be polite, or to avoid hurt feelings, they won't go so far as to make up nice things just to be polite, or evem to make another person feel good. In other words, I tend to accept positive comments - about myself or others - at face value since it is easy not to say anything at all.

    Am I wrong about this? What do you do yourself? What have you seen others do?
    I like to say nice things to others, although I only do it when I can honestly connect with what I'm saying, no compliments that I dont believe then or commendations/credit when I dont think they or deserved.

    There is a deficit of kindness I think most of the time and its so highly culturally policed too, which is something I didnt even think too much about until I read Adam Philips writing about it, but as indulgences go its pretty safe, most of the time, to share kind words.

    As to receiving compliments and credit, its nice to get credit when you've worked hard or made an effort, it shouldnt be the point and for me I try not to let that be the case. I'm not always suspicious of it and it would depend upon the source, if I did think it was suspect it usually is because there's reason to or the risk something is insincerely employing kindness as a ploy, play or stunt is more pronounced.

  4. #4

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    I do not easily absorb compliments, and I can generally tell the difference between one that is genuine and one that is for appearances or pity. I never give a compliment that I don't mean, but I know that not everyone is like that. I have a particular aversion to people who give excessive compliments indiscriminately... social butterflies who sprinkle glitter everywhere they go. To me, compliments are more like a potent spice where a little goes a long way.
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  5. #5
    blackbird, fly Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Will people say nice things to other people just to be polite? I tend to think people are more honest than that. While they may refrain from saying mean or critical things to be polite, or to avoid hurt feelings, they won't go so far as to make up nice things just to be polite, or evem to make another person feel good. In other words, I tend to accept positive comments - about myself or others - at face value since it is easy not to say anything at all.

    Am I wrong about this? What do you do yourself? What have you seen others do?
    I definitely don't make up things that are nice, but I will refrain from saying critical things. I'm not necessarily saying I'm typical, though. I don't think it does the other person any good to lie to them about positive things; it doesn't actually help them in the long term to believe things that aren't true.

    Incidentally, this is why I can't stand when women say that they want to be friends after declining to move things in a romantic direction. It's not that I'm actually opposed to being friends with them; it's just that I've found that it's something they're not serious about. I know this because I've actually taken them up on the offer a few times, and I've gotten feet dragging, avoidance, or ghosting almost every time. The one time I didn't, the person wanted to be "fuck buddies" (which I wasn't interested in, which probably makes me atypical), which suggested to me that the person, rather than having no interest in dating me, had conflicted feelings about doing so. (This was a "we're too much alike situation.") Perhaps in that case it may have eventually become more, but I was irritated that my perceived similarity was a stumbling block and somehow made me disposable, at least at that particular point in time.

    I think they think they're helping me feel better about rejection, or trying to make themselves feel less bad about rejection, but it's irritating because I'm not asking them if they still wanted want to be friends. They offer that (false) possibility unprompted. They idea that you'd offer up something positive (but untrue) unprompted is foreign to me.

    Although I have noticed that it seems like women in their thirties say the "friends" things less than younger women, which is something I appreciate. If I'm correct, it's probably that they tend to feel that life is too short for bs, or they know from experience that it's not actually a good way to handle the situation; i.e... it's not actually that nice to offer friendship if you don't mean it (and that cuts both ways). I value honesty (which isn't the same thing as valuing cruelty) and to me it feels like they respect me as a person, and I've always expressed appreciation for that when I've encountered it, even if part of me wasn't thrilled about the situation.

    Anyway, bringing this full circle:

    This may mean I'm untypical about not lying about positive things, given how relatively common this scenario has seemed to be in my dating experiences.
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  6. #6
    somnium tenebris Powehi's Avatar
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    As a teacher I'm often aware of times students need encouragement, and it is a dynamic where I do have to point out areas that need improvement. As a result I try to say positive things to help people feel capable. I tend to be very aware of low self-esteem and so have sometimes said things to help people feel better if they are down on themselves or sad. I do it because it makes me feel better as well to do that. It feels good to do something kind, especially if it is helpful. I've actually done it less in recent years because I experienced some unexpected social responses. I think differently than a lot of people, especially socially, so I tend to default to quiet.

    This discussion also lends itself to an examination of flattery vs. compliments. That is a long and complex topic, but one I am aware of because of my profession. Flattery is a common human phenomenon and is typically based on social strategies involving people with different levels of power. I know Hollywood likely operates predominantly in this manner.

    A few ways to tell the difference between sincere compliments and flattery include:
    1. Is the person demonstrating a goal of wanting something from the person they are saying nice things towards? Are they a respecter of persons? Is it an employer choosing who will get promoted? Is it a record executive? Is it someone with something to offer? Would they compliment a homeless person, or someone not treated well socially? If everyone else is saying negative things, does the person say something nice when it's not popular or providing them an advantage?

    2. Does the person switch from compliments to insults quickly? Does the same person have the capacity to say wonderful things about you and then quickly turn to say negative things? I don't think it makes sense that someone would hold conflicting extreme opinions about the same person, so if their words are inconsistent, then it implies they are strategy and not sincere.

    3. Is the compliment very general and not particularly specific to the individual? This one is not as consistent because sometimes people want to say something helpful, but don't know what to say. Is it a pre-fabricated line? It's something I noticed professionally in one setting in particular when I would ask for a single contract of full-time in place of multiple small contracts, the person is charge would always start complimenting me with the almost exact same monologue that was general, extremely positive, but simply a decorative way of telling me 'no'. The word choice didn't require a lot of observation or investment.

    So, I notice if there is a power dynamic (the person being complimented has something to give), if the words are inconsistent showing they don't come from a consistent inner framework of ideas, and to a lesser extent if they don't reveal much actual awareness, that the compliment is more likely strategy than sincerity.

    The flattery issue is stressful to me and kind of the reason why I don't have much of a career. It is a requirement to schmooze in the performing arts, and I can't do it. It makes me feel sick because very often the people you have to flatter are the ones I actually don't like that well, and I can't lie. They don't need encouragement, so it feels violating to me to compliment them. So, I work at a music store with the funny folk and make very little money.

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  7. #7
    Blessed With A Curse Schrödinger's Name's Avatar
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    Giving compliments makes me feel extremely 'vulnerable' for some weird reason. Between quotation marks because I am not sure if it's the right way to describe it... it just doesn't feel like me and I am most of the time uncomfortable giving compliments; that's why I almost never do so.
    I suppose the benefit of almost never giving compliments is that people take them seriously/appreciate them more (?) when I do so. A friend of mine once mentioned that she had difficulties dealing with my 'coldness/stiffness'. She apparently does like to receive compliments on simple things such as on her clothing etc. But I most of the time don't even notice such things and when I do it doesn't occur to me to say something about it (or it does but again; uncomfortable). I'd rather give people a 'compliment' in disguise. Last time I gave her a direct compliment it almost looked like I would have to perform CPR on her. :')

    Receiving compliments is a bit complicated too. I do like it from time to time. But I 'measure' them in some way. One way by observing the person who gives the compliments; how often do they do it? How do they treat other people, are they generally critical, are they 'educated' on the stuff they are complimenting,...?
    I probably prefer to receive 'compliments' the way I 'compliment' other people. That's mostly by giving informed feedback. If someone who is good at claying (and critical) compliments my work I will in some way value that compliment more. The 'being' critical is an important part since another person may be excellent at claying too, but just compliments people to encourage them and to make them feel better. When they constantly do this the compliment loses its value and the person their genuineness. People who take their time to analyse your work and give me useful feedback to improve my work are more reliable in my eyes. (Not to say that people who are more loose with compliments are always unreliable)


    Sometimes I wonder if people give compliments so they can receive one in return. Really, one of the most awkward interactions I have witnessed is someone complimenting someone else's shoes. Only for the person who received to compliment to reply with 'Oh your shoes are beautiful too!'
    Me, internally;

    Or how many people compliment others in order to 'gain' something (be it friendship, compliments, popularity, trust,...)

    There probably still are someone nuances missing in this post but... I'll leave it here.

    In short; I suppose that when I say nice things, it's mostly to encourage people.
    Until You Decide What Happens, Everything Is Happening At Once



  8. #8
    black blood, black tears MovinOut's Avatar
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    Usually, when I receive a compliment, my initial response is to be genuinely thankful for it. However, I ruminate on the words and then become skeptical of the intentions, wondering if the person is just saying that to get on my good side and later betray me, or to appear "friendlier" to the people surrounding us. I also can't help but wonder why someone would want to say something nice to a worthless piece of trash like me. I wish I could just shut off my brain sometimes.

    It may seem easy to not say anything at all, but for a lot of people, I think it's also pretty easy to say some artificial compliment. I've also seen some bitches who give compliments and then talk shit about the person behind their back. Kind of like Regina George in Mean Girls. I have an aunt like that, acting all nice to people and complimenting them effortlessly, and then whispering bitchy comments after they leave, which I hear. I can't help but wonder how many people are like that.

    For me, I hate talking, so I don't really give compliments unless I mean them. I do like giving compliments whenever I can, though. I'm just an awkward person and don't really know how to connect with people or show them that I like them or something about them. Giving genuine compliments seems like a good way to do that.
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  9. #9
    Fe this! Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powehi View Post
    This discussion also lends itself to an examination of flattery vs. compliments. That is a long and complex topic, but one I am aware of because of my profession. Flattery is a common human phenomenon and is typically based on social strategies involving people with different levels of power. I know Hollywood likely operates predominantly in this manner.

    A few ways to tell the difference between sincere compliments and flattery include:
    1. Is the person demonstrating a goal of wanting something from the person they are saying nice things towards? Are they a respecter of persons? Is it an employer choosing who will get promoted? Is it a record executive? Is it someone with something to offer? Would they compliment a homeless person, or someone not treated well socially? If everyone else is saying negative things, does the person say something nice when it's not popular or providing them an advantage?

    2. Does the person switch from compliments to insults quickly? Does the same person have the capacity to say wonderful things about you and then quickly turn to say negative things? I don't think it makes sense that someone would hold conflicting extreme opinions about the same person, so if their words are inconsistent, then it implies they are strategy and not sincere.

    3. Is the compliment very general and not particularly specific to the individual? This one is not as consistent because sometimes people want to say something helpful, but don't know what to say. Is it a pre-fabricated line? It's something I noticed professionally in one setting in particular when I would ask for a single contract of full-time in place of multiple small contracts, the person is charge would always start complimenting me with the almost exact same monologue that was general, extremely positive, but simply a decorative way of telling me 'no'. The word choice didn't require a lot of observation or investment.

    So, I notice if there is a power dynamic (the person being complimented has something to give), if the words are inconsistent showing they don't come from a consistent inner framework of ideas, and to a lesser extent if they don't reveal much actual awareness, that the compliment is more likely strategy than sincerity.

    The flattery issue is stressful to me and kind of the reason why I don't have much of a career. It is a requirement to schmooze in the performing arts, and I can't do it. It makes me feel sick because very often the people you have to flatter are the ones I actually don't like that well, and I can't lie. They don't need encouragement, so it feels violating to me to compliment them. So, I work at a music store with the funny folk and make very little money.
    I love this post, and it reflects my own position well.

    If someone is doing it coming from a place of actual kindness (and authentically wanting to leave a benevolent interpersonal footprint behind them), then I tend to perceive my own impatience with it as bad boundaries on my part (needing 'authenticity' from others for my own emotional regulation) and the impatience tends to get internalized (directed inwards, I'll notice my own needs and impatience before noticing and feeling drained by their needs - even if I thereafter feel the need to also remove myself from their presence to attend to my own need for authenticity). Granted, blaming others for how I'm feeling even where there's ulterior motives for dispensing disingenuous compliments is still bad boundaries on my part - but I'm less inclined to internalize that impatience or care how my impatience effects the latter.

    My own pet peeve under this topic: some people issue compliments out of insecurity, or believing that their critical assessments are probably unfair (they "shouldn't" be having the critical thoughts), and issuing compliments is a sort of compensation to make up for being 'so critical'. It's called reaction formation; overfocusing on the positive, underfocusing on the negative. I have kind of a low threshold for this going on in my periphery - where it seems to be happening (where I see people getting away with selfish behavior, and someone else is enabling it out of reaction formation) - simply because I'm sensitive to power dynamics, I guess. Which again, is about my own bad boundaries/emotional competence. But having that kind of enabling go on in my purview is like being trapped in a small room with someone else's farts.

    Interestingly, the first point I made (where I internalize when it appears to come from genuine kindness) and my pet peeve often collide.
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  10. #10
    Rising of the dick hero Dareyth's Avatar
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    I am an honest person, and don't say things just to be polite. I don't think I make up compliments either, but I do draw from my intuition more than my objective reasoning. I feel that I say them because they are true and the opportunity to do so arrived. The same would apply with being critical. There is a time and place for everything.

    With small talk, I have a hard time putting up a face. So I usually just be quiet or use humor.
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