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Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Say it like you mean it.

Sometimes having people be nice to you is kinda uncomfortable.

I know I'm a blusher. When somebody compliments me, and it actually means something to me - chances are, those cheeks'll go rosy. In fact, guaranteed, if I have some kind of crush on the person in question.

And I've found other people will take my sincerity as sarcasm when I try to let them know I appreciate or admire something about them. In this cynical age, it feels like we're all on the defense, rather than being open to accepting compliments and being willing to dish them out when we feel the need.

There's an old post I love on this topic from Jason Mulgrew's blog. I've tried to quote it at Lou at least twice and had her sigh (via email, she conveys it very well electronically) "Yes, Bel, you told me about that".

But just in case the rest of youse are missing out, I'm going to rehash it here! Basically, Jason confesses that he is useless at coping with people being nice to him and that interactions tend to go like this:

Mike: "Hey, cool shirt."
Me: "Geez - just remember to zip me up and you're done blowing me, Fagbert. Christ. Have you told your parents yet or are you going to wait until you bring Bruce home for the holidays?"


Mindy: "You look nice today."
Me: "Show of hands - how many people here gave Mike herpes? Raise it higher, Mindy, raise it higher!"

Maybe this is a self-esteem issue, but I'm not a psychologist. But what I'm apparently supposed to do is say "Thank you" and move on, so I'll work on that.

Okay, sure - the guy possibly exagerates as much as I do, but its freaking hysterical so I ain't complaining. And he's right though, so many times you find yourself reacting in any other way, rather than just saying "thanks".

On the flip side, his approach to complimenting people is slightly unusual. And by unusual, I mean just plain weird...

I think that I give compliments very well. Well, that's not exactly true - I think I give compliments very well because I give them like a person with mental disabilities. For example, I very rarely say "You look beautiful" to a woman. Instead, I will say something like, "Your hair smells like raspberries." I will mean this sincerely and as a compliment, but often times this makes me look a little weird and possibly dangerous.
But what's better: for a guy to deliver some cheesedick line and probably not mean it or for a guy to blurt out the first thing that comes to his mind and completely mean it, even if that first thing is "Your perfume reminds me of carrot cake" or "When you touch my hand, it makes me want to plant a flower" or "I feel warm because you look so nice"? Yeah, I thought so.

I do have to agree with our man Mulgrew here. A mental-disabilities-compliment probably would be quite heart-warming over a cheesedick line.

Though so much of compliments are about context as well as content - something as simple as being told that you are beautiful, a line that has been said a million times to a million people, can still really mean something, life changing even, coming from the right person at the right time.

Any thoughts, you oh so gorgeous people out there? Compliments that you've treasured, or that you realised were just water off a duck's back? Feel free to post anonymously if you so desire...


Anonymous rebecca said...

Mental-disability compliment by far. Like by a million.

Why not make it all out memorable, and it shows a bit of intelligence right?

It's like the drunk guy who stood over my friend while she did push-ups and says (put on Arnie voice) 'Thats the way I like it' while pumping his hips.

Doesn't matter how this happened but 8 years later it still cracks me up.

Wed Jan 17, 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

ooh ooh ooh!

What if someone came up to you to tell you what your 'percentage of love' was!!!!!

Oh my goodness thats cracking me up so much right now, how could you not smile if someone told you that!

(you know what I'm talking about right? the thing you did back in primary school)

Thu Jan 18, 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Lou said...

Totally agree with you and am exactly the same - and have consciously made an effort over the last few years to compliment people. It's grown from 'you look really good today' or 'I love your shoes' into non-appearance based stuff... (something very important with small girls - not falling back on the trap of just complimenting their looks and adding to the view that their appearance is the most impt thing)

Anyway, yesterday I sent an unneccessary 'good job! thank you for being so patient!' etc to a fellow PA who had had a really tough job to do (I felt very sorry for her throughout the process as I sent her more and more changes from my boss) and I could tell that it really meant something to her and it made me feel good for having done it.

Trying to think of special comments for me... err... well yesterday I was showing my boss my 'Ugly Betty' hat (pom-poms and ear-flaps. 3 on each side.). And he said 'you know what Lou? You can actually pull it off - that colour looks great on you!'. Sheesh, I was trying to be self-deprecating.

PS I am so over - O V A H - hearing about Jason Mulgrew and his compliments.
PPS JUST KIDDING! I'm never over anything you tell me.

Thu Jan 18, 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bel said...


Thu Jan 18, 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

I'm a terrible compliment taker. And kind of a lousy compliment giver, though I try!

I usually go for a self-deprecating response, or out and out denial, followed by self-put-down, which usually ends in an exasperated sigh from the giver and myself muttering "ignore that, nevermind, um, thanks?"

things that have stuck out:

"You're too good to be true"


"'re a tricky one.. you have to be read with subtitles."

Now, I'm not sure I understand the second one. I like to see it as an analogy for a sexy foreign film or that I'm mysterious or something

On the other hand, it may mean that he couldn't really understand what I was saying or that he didn't speak english.

Thu Jan 18, 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

Am totally thinking of you in that film were you are doubly dubbed and possibly subtitled?! heehee! :D

When in doubt, take it as a compliment I say.
A guy once told me "You have perfect breasts. For me".
Did this mean that my boobs should have been transferred into his sole ownership? Or was he simply acknowledging the subjectiveness of judging appearance?
I'll never know. I didn't question him further - I just pashed the guy.


Thu Jan 18, 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Leanne said...

Well I just happen to go out with someone who cant take compliments.. so what do I do? I just keep giving them. I figure they will get used to it eventually and maybe possibly start believing in them too. On the other hand they can't stop complimenting me so my head is struggling to fit into most places. somebody hand me a pin.

Fri Jan 19, 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

Do they compliment your big inflated head as well?!

Aah - guess that's why they say love is blind... ;)

Lou, this reminds me of the work colleague you mentioned before Christmas who seemed oblivious to her stylee-ness & went somewhat into shock when you complimented her outfit - a flipside to the ppl who can't handle - those who are unaccustomed!

Fri Jan 19, 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Lou said...

Yeah - I said to her:
'I like your dress, I like your boots, I like your tights, I like your handbag - I pretty much want to be you'

And she said:
'that's literally the nicest thing anybody has ever said to me'

She's 31.

I suspect her ex was a wanker. I think there is a connection between not having enough compliments in your life and subsequently having low enough self-esteem to date a wanker.

Compliment people, people.

Sat Jan 20, 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous meg said...

Bel, this is not related to your post but look at this link. It is just... wow.

There are parts of it that are ok but together it is just creepy.

Sun Jan 21, 02:13:00 PM  

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