If you are going to compliment someone, then my belief is to make it worthwhile. Sure saying “That’s a pleasant sun dress you’re wearing” and “Your eyebrows look symmetrical” are nice gestures but it’s difficult to determine the sincerity level. The ulterior motive of the giver could be avoiding awkward conversation silence, buttering up for a favor or filling a mandated compliment quota. They may not think the praise was deserved but want to say something safe. It’s comparable to offering someone cookies. There is no danger in offending anyone, unlike if you were distributing fruit.
Speaking for myself, I have given the occasional counterfeit flattery. Once, I noticed a casual friend from afar wearing a hideous sweater. As he drew closer, my brain repeated “Don’t mention the sweater, don’t mention the sweater.” Unfortunately, the first words that came out of my mouth were, “Wow, that sweater is absolutely amazing! Where did you find it?”
With my overacting, I am sure my colleague sensed that part of the compliment was a fraud. There was no winner in this situation as I felt dirty for lying and he most likely became self-conscious about his attire. After that encounter, I decided to supply less compliments but make them more meaningful. If I was cornered into small talk, I’ll stick to generic topics like the weather or geometry.
In order to achieve this, I have come up with two ways to deliver a substantial compliment. The first requires a time table of a few days. On a day I notice a person wearing something noteworthy or sporting a hip hairstyle, I’ll show my approval. Nothing dramatic like “That gorgeous smile of yours makes me want to touch you inappropriately” or “I would murder my own mother for that parka you’re wearing.” Just something simple and nice while walking by.
The next step occurs in the future. On a following day, regardless of the person’s appearance, I’ll disagree with an element of it. Again, I won’t get out of control by declaring their socks as repulsive and make fake vomit noises. In a mature fashion, I’ll assure them their look is suitable but I believed their previous presentation was superior. This will successfully cement the prior compliment as valid and significant.
The other option I’ve devised takes place in one setting but is riskier. It starts the same as I compliment a person of choice but they must be surrounded by others. For example, I’ll pass a group of shoppers in a department store and say towards a target “Hello Sweetheart, that blouse brings out the sparkle in your eyes.”
At first this remark likely confuses the lady as to what my intentions are. She’s pondering if I really believe her blue top nicely accents her eyes or was I trying to charm her into buying discounted kitchenware. The flattery is not fully accepted yet because she is unsure as to what my angle is.
That brings me to the difficult part which transforms the mundane compliment into something memorable. I’ll pick one of the neighboring people and insult them. This part is delicate as that last thing I want is to appear cruel. I usually choose a skinny or non-threatening looking patron wearing basic apparel and mention something similar to “And you Stickman, you look ridiculous in those brown slacks.”
Slandering a scrawny man in tan pants is usually a secure move. By no means will I degrade a bodybuilder wearing a tight pink shirt with an orange checkered vest. I’ll leave that gentleman alone and as a general rule, probably never speak to him.
Anyway, now Ms. Blue Blouse can be confident that my compliment was genuine since I wasn’t fishing for anything in return. Albeit, it may have been at expense of an undernourished man but maybe my mocking will strive him to become a fashion model. In fact, I could’ve brightened the lives of two people concurrently.
As you can see, my approach is not to shower people with compliments like confetti on New Year’s. Only offering positives leads to a decline in credibility. To maintain a listenable opinion, it’s necessary to mix in some dislikes even if they’re exaggerated or imaginary.
To offer proof that these methods succeed, I will inform you they have worked reversely on me. People are always telling me that my essays are terrible and I finally discovered the reason isn’t because they’re idiots. They are setting up authenticity to rave about my future ones.