Ben Langhinrichs

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When compliments hurt

Sun 8 Jan 2006, 09:42 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
In general, I am a big fan of compliments.  I like to give them.  I like to receive them.  Nonetheless, there are some compliments that fall short of the mark, hurting rather than feeling good.  These fall into three basic levels.  

The first level is damning with faint praise.  For example, there is the "You've clearly put a lot of time into that project.", which unless it is accompanied with something else such as "It is fricking amazing." generally means both "Why did you waste your time?" and "How stupid could you be?".

The second level is the anti-compliment.  For example, there is the "You still do [fill in whatever activity you want] really well.", which basically indicates that you have not only entered your dotage, it is just plain astounding that you can rise up out of your rocking chair and do anything.

And then there is the third level...  This is the scariest level of all in some ways.  This is the dreaded compliment from your daughter who is home from college and says "You are the most awesome Dad ever!"  That one really hits where it hurts, in the wallet!

Copyright 2006 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

422.1. Seshagiri Sriram
(01/10/2006 09:43 PM)

Being the father of a one year old, I have not yet heard the 3rd level (yet). Looking forward to it in about 10 years time :-)