Compliments are controversial around these parts. I’m a fan of both giving and receiving them, and feel that doing so is beneficial. But I’ve heard you folks say time and again that compliments can be tricky, confusing, even painful depending on how they’re presented and how the person receiving them interprets them.
Since I am fascinated by all things style and body image, the compliments I tend to encourage have to do with those two topics. And what I’ve learned is that when some people are told, “You look great today,” what they hear is, “You look better today than you usually look.” That when some people are told, “You’ve got gorgeous hair,” they feel uncomfortable accepting praise for something that is genetic, inherited, and mainly beyond their control. That when some people are told, “You look fabulous in that dress,” they feel the underlying implication is, “You have conformed to social beauty norms. Good job.”
Originally posted 2012-09-11 06:20:25.