• You are currently viewing our forum as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to additional post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), view blogs, respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free, so please join our community today! Just click here to register. You should turn your Ad Blocker off for this site or certain features may not work properly. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us by clicking here.

Why people say nice things

Coriolis

Odd man out
Staff member
Joined
Apr 18, 2010
Messages
27,007
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
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?
 

Luminous

༻✧✧༺
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Messages
10,024
MBTI Type
Iᑎᖴᑭ
Enneagram
952
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
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.
 

Lark

Active member
Joined
Jun 21, 2009
Messages
29,576
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.
 

Peter Deadpan

phallus impudicus
Joined
Dec 14, 2016
Messages
8,883
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.
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

Guardian of Ga'hoole
Joined
Jul 24, 2008
Messages
17,619
MBTI Type
INTP
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
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.
 

Siúil a Rúin

To the waters of the wild
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
13,780
MBTI Type
INFJ
Enneagram
496
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
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.
 

Schrödinger's Name

Blessed With A Curse
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
Messages
1,693
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.
 

Morpeko

Noble Wolf
Joined
Sep 20, 2017
Messages
5,414
MBTI Type
LEFV
Enneagram
461
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
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.
 

Z Buck McFate

I'm too sad for pants.
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
6,001
Enneagram
5w4
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
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.
 

Taito

Dissolving
Joined
Jun 20, 2018
Messages
5,965
MBTI Type
ISTP
Enneagram
368
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
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.
 

Arcturus

throne of dust
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
4,723
MBTI Type
ISTJ
Enneagram
163
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
I tend to accept positive comments with a grain of salt. I do think that people sooner compliment than criticize or insult, which leads me to place a lower value on compliments than some or maybe most people.

Some compliments are just so easy to give- some seem just plain empty by nature. "You're nice," yes, thanks, I haven't murdered anyone. I usually don't understand what precisely the person means, so it registers as useless white noise. I usually don't see compliments as telling of anything unless they can be explained or are relevant somehow. You say it is easy to not say anything at all, I'd say it's also very easy to be 'nice' for people who want to be.

I think most people say things with the main goal to make someone else *feel better, which by itself wouldn't mean they would lie. That does mean that some of them are, however, prone to exaggerating the importance of what they are complimenting. Sure, they'd say they won't lie, but in a dire situation they sometimes toss out multiple compliments ("Look at the bright side!") that creates a very pleasing image for the person they are complimenting (and sometimes for others, and most often- for themselves). If a person is an asshole but he is tidy, that complimenter will hyperfocus on how tidy they are and how positively it speaks of them as a person, but actually ignore the whole- turning a blind eye to the 'non-complimentable' parts.

Oddly enough, I do let pass 'polite'-style compliments. We're at a dinner and your extended military grandparents are here eyeing all of us. Sure, toss a couple compliments out unbidden. I know it's just something that the situation expects you to do.

I suppose with this I can say that I take compliments with a grain of salt- always, and-
 

The Cat

I'm from Outer Space...Dont Overthink it.
Staff member
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
19,428
Didn't realize so many folk were so spoiled for nice in their lives. Lucky ducks... 🦊
 

Abcdenfp

Terpsichore
Joined
May 19, 2017
Messages
1,669
MBTI Type
ENFP
Enneagram
7W8
I don't give out compliments just to give them out. If Someone has a trait that is worth noting I have no problem remarking on it. I love to tell people when I think they have something exceptional about them or admirable. Most people seem surprised when they receive a compliment. Which makes me wonder if they don't see these things in themselves.
 

Coriolis

Odd man out
Staff member
Joined
Apr 18, 2010
Messages
27,007
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I will reply in this and my next 2 posts.

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.
I didn't have any particular scope or type of topic in mind, so it is fair game to comment on anything. So yes, this includes your friend's haircut, your neighbor's landscaping job, your niece's piano recital, the advice from your coworker -- anything, really. Do you make some distinction between big, important matters and smaller, more trivial matters? If so, where is the threshold?

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.
So you like to say nice things to others, just to add more kindness to the world? How much do you think kind words address this kindness deficit, as opposed to kind actions?

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.
I have no patience for insincere compliments, either, or insincere anything else for that matter. When you do give a compliment to someone, what motivates you to do it? Desire to make them feel good? Desire to express yourself? Desire to convey some specific feedback to them? Something else?

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.

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.
I do hope you are not atypical in not lying about positive things. That concern was part of my motivation in making this thread, to find out how often positive comments were insincere, for whatever reason. Interesting how you see this tying into that "let's be friends" request when a romantic relationship isn't working out.

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.
This is very insightful and well-explained. I was thinking more of social situations than professional when writing the OP, but I suspect some of the same dynamics will play out, e.g. regarding power dynamics. Your item 3 above is the stuff of rejection letters of all kinds ("We received resumes from many highly qualified applicants . . . it was a difficult decision . . . ") and I have no patience with it, either. Whether positive or negative, I want comments to have some detail to it, something I can use to understand myself better and improve. This suggests another distinction, that between compliments and feedback. I suppose the latter term focuses on the utility of the comment, whereas the former focuses on how it makes someone feel.
 

highlander

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
26,359
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
6w5
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
I don't give out compliments just to give them out. If Someone has a trait that is worth noting I have no problem remarking on it. I love to tell people when I think they have something exceptional about them or admirable. Most people seem surprised when they receive a compliment. Which makes me wonder if they don't see these things in themselves.
This is pretty much my view and orientation. I'm just pretty honest and I think I can be discerning in recognizing good things about people so why not tell them? .My first love language is also words of appreciation so if I feel something, I will often just say it. I can also be direct in raising concerns as well though. Generally, I just don't hold back when I get to know someone.
 

Coriolis

Odd man out
Staff member
Joined
Apr 18, 2010
Messages
27,007
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
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. :')
What is a "compliment in disguise"? If brevity is the soul of wit, then perhaps rarity is the soul of compliments.

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.
The compliments you give seem like what I describe as positive feedback, in being specific and geared to encourage improvement. That isn't being a dick, just someone who wants to be honest when offering support. Yes, that tit-for-tat compliment giving is silly, and I won't indulge it. I such desires on the part of people offering me compliments go right over my head. I will simply respond with "thank you", and move on. Maybe then they think I'm a dick. (Perhaps then they won't waste their breath offering me empty compliments.)

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.
So then you give compliments mainly to connect with people? It is interesting that you have a sort of delayed reaction, positive at first, then devolving into skepticism. I can tell just from my limited interaction with you here that you are hardly a worthless piece of trash. Does it alleviate your concerns if a compliment contains details and examples, so you can match it up with what you know of yourself, and what others have told you? The highlighted really gets at the heart of my question: whether it is easier to say nothing, or to find something you can compliment honestly, or to make up something up; and what motivates each approach. My mother, unfortunately, would compliment people and then say negative things about them behind their back. Small things, like telling the neighbor she likes her dress, then telling my father how ugly it was once the neighbor had gone inside. It is one of the qualities I most disliked in her.

I tend to accept positive comments with a grain of salt. I do think that people sooner compliment than criticize or insult, which leads me to place a lower value on compliments than some or maybe most people.

Some compliments are just so easy to give- some seem just plain empty by nature. "You're nice," yes, thanks, I haven't murdered anyone. I usually don't understand what precisely the person means, so it registers as useless white noise. I usually don't see compliments as telling of anything unless they can be explained or are relevant somehow. You say it is easy to not say anything at all, I'd say it's also very easy to be 'nice' for people who want to be.

I think most people say things with the main goal to make someone else better, which by itself wouldn't mean they would lie. That does mean that some of them are, however, prone to exaggerating the importance of what they are complimenting. Sure, they'd say they won't lie, but in a dire situation they sometimes toss out multiple compliments ("Look at the bright side!") that creates a very pleasing image for the person they are complimenting (and sometimes for others, and most often- for themselves). If a person is an asshole but he is tidy, that complimenter will hyperfocus on how tidy they are and how positively it speaks of them as a person, but actually ignore the whole- turning a blind eye to the 'non-complimentable' parts.

Oddly enough, I do let pass 'polite'-style compliments. We're at a dinner and your extended military grandparents are here eyeing all of us. Sure, toss a couple compliments out unbidden. I know it's just something that the situation expects you to do.

I suppose with this I can say that I take compliments with a grain of salt- always, and-
I agree with you completely about empty compliments, as I replied to Powehi. I tend to wonder why someone will even make such a statement. What do you think motivates people to make positive comments, vs. just saying nothing? In the highlighted, did you mean to say "make someone else better", as in help them to improve, vs. "make someone else FEEL better"? To me, encouraging true improvement requires detail and support, not empty assertions that the person is "nice". On the other hand, I suppose such vague assertions might help some people feel better, even if they don't do that for me.

You make a good distinction between outright lying and exaggeration. I have certainly witnessed the latter. Again, giving proper support to the comment will demonstrate if this is not the case, more in the manner of feedback. What do you mean, though, by creating a very pleasing image most often for themselves? Are you suggesting that people offer compliments to make themselves look good, or that they prefer to have a positive image of the other person, so they create that through exaggerated compliments?
 

Coriolis

Odd man out
Staff member
Joined
Apr 18, 2010
Messages
27,007
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
5w6
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
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.
Am I understanding right that you will make allowances for compliments that are exaggerated or not genuine, when made out of kindness? I can see how this would go against a desire for authenticity. It is interesting and very mature to own that impatience as you do, while at the same time addressing it by withdrawing later on. I have seen people who hesitate to say anything critical, considering it unfair or perhaps even excessively harsh, however gently they try to deliver it. Can you say more about giving compliments out of insecurity? How do you think complimenting others can make the giver feel more secure?

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.
How do you determine when is the time for compliments vs. criticism, vs. saying nothing at all?

I don't give out compliments just to give them out. If Someone has a trait that is worth noting I have no problem remarking on it. I love to tell people when I think they have something exceptional about them or admirable. Most people seem surprised when they receive a compliment. Which makes me wonder if they don't see these things in themselves.
why do you love to tell people these things? Sometimes when I give compliments (or even some fairly detailed positive feedback), I have a very definite impression that the other person doesn't see these things in themselves. Trying to show them what is really there can be an uphill battle.

This is pretty much my view and orientation. I'm just pretty honest and I think I can be discerning in recognizing good things about people so why not tell them? .My first love language is also words of appreciation so if I feel something, I will often just say it. I can also be direct in raising concerns as well though. Generally, I just don't hold back when I get to know someone.
I was wondering if someone would tie this into love languages. Do you always make a point to tell someone something positive, or just when you see something especially noteworthy, or when they seem to need encouragement?
 
Last edited:

highlander

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
26,359
MBTI Type
INTJ
Enneagram
6w5
Instinctual Variant
sx/sp
Encouraging true improvement often has more to do with understanding the positive qualities than providing derailed information on the negative qualities but maybe that is not what you mean by "support". Agree generalizations are only so helpful. Anyway people don't receive as much appreciation as they deserve or wamt. It a recurring theme that I have seen at work for a couple decades at a couple different places - usually the #1, 2 or 3 item and its not really that hard to do.
 

Arcturus

throne of dust
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
4,723
MBTI Type
ISTJ
Enneagram
163
Instinctual Variant
sp/so
I agree with you completely about empty compliments, as I replied to Powehi. I tend to wonder why someone will even make such a statement. What do you think motivates people to make positive comments, vs. just saying nothing?

If you're asking with specifics in mind, I have no idea. If you are asking in general: I think sometimes they want to cultivate a positive, agreeable image for themselves- which in turn can be done for multiple kinds of reasons. Some people just want to be genuinely kind and don't know how to, as was mentioned in someone else's post here. Some are lonely, some want attention- lord knows.


In the highlighted, did you mean to say "make someone else better", as in help them to improve, vs. "make someone else FEEL better"? To me, encouraging true improvement requires detail and support, not empty assertions that the person is "nice". On the other hand, I suppose such vague assertions might help some people feel better, even if they don't do that for me.

Missed a word. I meant 'feel better'. Will edit and fix it in my original post.

I agree with the bolded. Anything other than that is empty and not of much use to me. I tend to find most compliments patronizing, or at worst, infantilizing. "OH WOW LOOK AT [good action/quality]! I'M SO PROUD OF YOU!" is reserved for kindergarteners, in my mind. This is a major reason I still struggle to accept compliments today (more often, I get offended first), though it's much easier for me to give them, especially if I truly understand that it does good for the other person beyond just making them feel good.


You make a good distinction between outright lying and exaggeration. I have certainly witnessed the latter. Again, giving proper support to the comment will demonstrate if this is not the case, more in the manner of feedback. What do you mean, though, by creating a very pleasing image most often for themselves? Are you suggesting that people offer compliments to make themselves look good, or that they prefer to have a positive image of the other person, so they create that through exaggerated compliments?

The bolded. Sometimes I see them in spades in self-martrying people, or people who idealize someone else so greatly that they focus only on the other person's good qualities and downright ignore the rest. The former creates causes out of thin air to die for because they have a an unhealthy attraction / compulsion for it, the latter are just idealistic, young, inexperienced, or all of the above. These are just more pronounced examples however, not the standard of how people behave.


The highlighted really gets at the heart of my question: whether it is easier to say nothing, or to find something you can compliment honestly, or to make up something up; and what motivates each approach.

This wasn't directed at me, but imo- all sorts of reasons and circumstances. Sometimes those align to make it so that machinegunning compliments at people turns out to be the best idea.
 

Taito

Dissolving
Joined
Jun 20, 2018
Messages
5,965
MBTI Type
ISTP
Enneagram
368
Instinctual Variant
sp/sx
How do you determine when is the time for compliments vs. criticism, vs. saying nothing at all?

I just do? It is almost instinctual.
 
Top