Sunday, November 25, 2012

Compliments and Reciprocation - A delicate balance

There are a few things that I really like to study in the process of interacting with other humans, one of these things is how people respond to compliments. Some people, myself included feel obligated happy to reciprocate with a compliment where plausible. Some people do not feel that is necessary, but say "thank you."  Then some are narcissistic douche lords who should learn a few things about interacting with others.

One of the phrases that I overuse like crazy is "I like your face."* I like this phrase. I love that some of my friends have absconded away with it and use it also. You can mean it as is, but it is also a great compliment come-back when you have a loss for ideas, and feel like you can't quite muster the right tone to make an observation seem like a compliment, even though you don't necessarily mean it that way, i.e. "You have a fork in your hair!" Recently I said this to a girl at church.** She said, "aww, thanks. I like your [insert super long pause here] hair." I harbor no ill-will toward this girl, and I'm 80% sure she didn't mean anything by it. I bring this up simply to point out that it seems less like a compliment the longer it takes for you to concoct it. In this instance, probably just an "aww thanks" would have gone a lot further than a compliment come-back.

*Which I have overused for years - way before Bridgit Mendler was ever autotuned.

**"I like your face," not "you have a fork in your hair," although I have absolutely said that before because homegirl*** did have a fork in her hair.

***Fork girl was always super nice, and always showered me in compliments, making me feel awkward that her aesthetic wasn't really something I necessarily appreciated, so "that color looks great on you" (which it did, I wouldn't lie.) was growing a little tired, so I found that if I used the right tone, observations could come off as complimentary. But that can be exhausting, and potentially reinforce things that probably shouldn't be reinforced.   Like a fork.    In someone's hair.