Backhanded Compliments: Don't Dish Them Out or Take Them

People generally have the best intentions and in order to brighten someone’s day, they will dole out compliments. But there is a way to ruin such praise. Backhanded compliment are insults disguised as approval. They can be intentional or unintentional. The person issuing the compliment could be blissfully ignorant, or a complete jerk. To those that don’t know what flattery is, here are a few examples of what NOT to say:

1. I don’t usually like brunettes, but it works for you!

Your response: “We’re so sorry that you usually turn your nose up at people like us but thank you for choosing me as the most adequate of the group! I shall now bask in your worship!”

Okay so maybe your response shouldn’t go EXACTLY like that but the message is still appropriate. Saying this is pretty much the same as,“I don’t usually dig through the trash, but I thought I’d try it out today!” No one has the right to judge or discount a certain group of people and then fetishize a few members because of a flip flop attraction. Attraction should work on an individual basis and not because the member of the opposite sex is a brunette and that’s not appealing to you.  

2. That outfit does wonders for your figure!

Your response: “I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with my figure.”

Do not automatically assume that someone has issues with their body, not everyone needs a confidence boost. Also, by voicing this specific opinion, you’ve made the person aware that you may or may not judge them from time to time. So in trying to seem considerate, you have actually gone in the other direction and might have just made the person paranoid.

3. You look so pretty/handsome today!

Your response: “Oh JUST today?!”

So some people really don’t care about their appearance. Hair, makeup, deodorant, it isn’t for everyone! There are those of us that don’t feel like dressing to the nines every single day! It doesn’t mean that we don’t think we look decent. Everyone’s standards are different and a random dress and pair of cute flats isn’t needed to feel or look beautiful. Instead of making the person feel judged, simply say “nice sandals,” “cute dress,” “I like your pants.” Your standard of looking pretty/handsome may not be the same as theirs.

4. You look nice I guess.

Your response: “You guess?”

If backhanded compliments weren’t awkward enough, “I guess” is just a way to make the other person feel bad. If they’ve asked your opinion on something be honest. by adding on those two words, not only have you made the person unsure about something, they may also feel like you couldn’t care less. Nothing like flattery mixed with a dose of “I really could care less.”