Author Topic: Paying compliments is rude?  (Read 21321 times)

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WillyNilly

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2012, 06:08:08 PM »
This is the thread:
http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=116227.0

Ok well in that thread Reason was advised:
Quote
Actually, traditional etiquette had a road map, and it is unfortunate that people have abandoned it. It was a simple rule - "Never make personal comments to strangers". It doesn't matter whether you meant them to be complimentary or not, you didn't let strangers get the idea that you are evaluating them on a scale of personal attractiveness at all. It's a "better safe than sorry" rule, and I think we really should be stressing it more.

Which is different then "it's always rude to comment on a stranger's appearance. Even when saying something nice about them." Especially since the context of that thread was extremely lewd personal comments from a creepy stranger who refused to stop making comments even when told he was being bothersome and asked to stop.

To say to a stranger in a different context "you have a lovely smile" is not necessarily a comment about attractiveness, or being hit on or something etc.  For example I work in medicine, as such I sometimes come across people - strangers to me - who are stressed and upset who will comment on my smile as being warm or comforting.  Yes its about my appearance but its more about emotion.

Or a situation where a shorter person *politely* asks a taller person in the grocery store "would you please grab me a box of the corn flakes?  You're so nice and tall" again its about appearance technically, and its said as a compliment but really its about practicality of being able to reach the top shelf.

Tilt Fairy

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2012, 06:20:36 PM »
I'd love random men to tell me I'm hot. But they don't. Ahhh well. Maybe if one looks like Helen of Troy the incessant compliments from strangers can get tedious but I don't have that problem so I'd welcome any sparing compliments very readily. Even the occasional disingenous pity one from the ageing men on building sites as I walk past would be great every now and again if they can manage it.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 06:30:06 PM by Tilt Fairy »

Raintree

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2012, 09:25:36 PM »
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If I notice a girl that interests me, I make eye contact. If she makes eye contact as well and seems interested in talking to me I say hello. If she says hello, back I introduce myself and make small talk. If that goes well, I would pay a compliment at this point and ask if I can call sometime to set up a date. My success rate with this approach has been quite high, in so far as actually getting a real phone number so it certainly didn't seem like I was doing anything wrong.

I WISH men in this neck of the woods would be this direct. Around these parts, they either

1) Beat about the bush, hint, do the hot/cold game, and never actually get around to asking you out, or

2) Pester and harass, but do not watch for "I'm not interested" cues, such as lack of eye contact, one-syllable answers to questions, out-and-out "I'd like to get back into reading my book now" statements, etc.

I think it sounds as though you were sensitive to cues as to whether or not the woman was interested, so you did fine. As for compliments, I think it's fine as you seem to have sized the woman up for responsiveness first. I've had random men run up to me and say, "Oh wow, what nationality are you? Are you Italian? Well you look very European." (Just because I have dark hair and eyes). It's kind of annoying when I'm just going about my business and have given no indication that I want to chat. But if someone asked that same question during the course of a conversation it probably wouldn't bother me.

Allyson

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2012, 01:39:55 AM »
What one person absolutely loves, and is a 'make my day' sort of moment, to another is going to make them very uncomfortable. I think it's usually best to err on the side of caution, which doesn't mean never complimenting anyone, ever, but being aware of context, cues and so on. And also, not expecting a response. 

It's safer to go with something like clothing or hairstyle rather than physical attribute, though attributes in a context like WillyNilly describes is a bit different. A middle aged guy making an appearance related comment to a teenage girl? Just don't go there. Maybe it's unfair, but it's never necessary and often comes off as awkward or creepy.

People talk a lot about how everything is so politically correct and people are so worried about offending someone. But guys still have no problem making really inappropriate comments to women in situations like, oh, being alone in an elevator.

nyarlathotep

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2012, 05:03:29 AM »
What one person absolutely loves, and is a 'make my day' sort of moment, to another is going to make them very uncomfortable. I think it's usually best to err on the side of caution, which doesn't mean never complimenting anyone, ever, but being aware of context, cues and so on. And also, not expecting a response.

POD, to this whole post. I would even go so far as to add that in certain contexts, Reason's approach would only work if he left out the compliment. YMMV, but where I live (central London), it would be just as likely to incite suspicion or annoyance.

MariaE

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2012, 06:49:12 AM »
What one person absolutely loves, and is a 'make my day' sort of moment, to another is going to make them very uncomfortable. I think it's usually best to err on the side of caution, which doesn't mean never complimenting anyone, ever, but being aware of context, cues and so on. And also, not expecting a response.

POD, to this whole post. I would even go so far as to add that in certain contexts, Reason's approach would only work if he left out the compliment. YMMV, but where I live (central London), it would be just as likely to incite suspicion or annoyance.

This makes me very sad. Why should I have to go without something that makes me incredibly happy and brightens my entire day, just because it makes somebody else uncomfortable? Why does their discomfort trump my joy?

(Of course I'm only talking about genuine compliments here - the sleazy kind is always rude).
 
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nyarlathotep

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2012, 07:03:33 AM »
This makes me very sad. Why should I have to go without something that makes me incredibly happy and brightens my entire day, just because it makes somebody else uncomfortable? Why does their discomfort trump my joy?

(Of course I'm only talking about genuine compliments here - the sleazy kind is always rude).

Probably a good thing you don't live here, then!

Venus193

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2012, 07:10:09 AM »
Having had my looks insulted so many times in my life a compliment about anything related feels like an insult to my intelligence as well as a creepshow.

Compliment on intelligence and wit?  Gladly accepted.

MariaE

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2012, 07:24:55 AM »
This makes me very sad. Why should I have to go without something that makes me incredibly happy and brightens my entire day, just because it makes somebody else uncomfortable? Why does their discomfort trump my joy?

(Of course I'm only talking about genuine compliments here - the sleazy kind is always rude).

Probably a good thing you don't live here, then!

I've received genuine compliments in London too, fortunately :)
 
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nyarlathotep

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2012, 07:45:51 AM »
This makes me very sad. Why should I have to go without something that makes me incredibly happy and brightens my entire day, just because it makes somebody else uncomfortable? Why does their discomfort trump my joy?

(Of course I'm only talking about genuine compliments here - the sleazy kind is always rude).

Probably a good thing you don't live here, then!

I've received genuine compliments in London too, fortunately :)

I'm glad to hear it.

Allyson

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #25 on: May 25, 2012, 10:37:46 AM »
It's not about discomfort trumping, so much as the potential results. If I don't tell someone they have pretty hair, there's not going to be a negative result--nobody ever feels uncomfortable or upset because a stranger doesn't give them a random compliment. But, they might in the opposite situation.

There's also usually a way to make a compliment less personal and still get the same idea across. "You have pretty hair" could be "That's a great hairstyle".

I also think if the intention actually is flirtation, that's a little different, because you really do 'mean it that way'. Even then, in my experience it's usually better to exchange a few words before complimenting, just to see how receptive the other person is. If "How's your day been?" is answered with a grunt, or one word and going back to their book, they're probably not going to appreciate the compliment. But if they engage in conversation, it's more likely they at least won't be offended or uncomfortable.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2012, 10:38:31 AM »
I compliment random woman all the time, but thinking about it, I always compliment them on their clothes, hair, makeup, or accessories.

I guess I like complimenting people's style choices, and it doesn't feel weird, because its a CHOICE of theirs that I'm admiring, not some natural attribute.

Complimenting their actual LOOKS would feel weird, like I was trying to get a date or something.



TurtleDove

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2012, 10:44:49 AM »
I compliment random woman all the time, but thinking about it, I always compliment them on their clothes, hair, makeup, or accessories.

I guess I like complimenting people's style choices, and it doesn't feel weird, because its a CHOICE of theirs that I'm admiring, not some natural attribute.

Complimenting their actual LOOKS would feel weird, like I was trying to get a date or something.

Yes, me too.  But I don't think there is anything wrong with complimenting someone because you would like to perhaps date them, so long as you back off if the interest is not reciprocated.  I get complimented often, by both men and women.  Oftentimes it is just a "hey, let's give this person a pick-me-up and give me a feel-good boost too by complimenting them!"  I can tell when someone is trying to pick me up, and I have become pretty good at smiling and thanking them for the compliment while making it clear I am not interested.  I don't think there is anything wrong with them having made the compliment. I do think there would be something wrong if I assumed the worst about them and made them feel crappy when they genuinely were trying to do something nice.

Reason

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2012, 11:09:49 AM »
Having had my looks insulted so many times in my life a compliment about anything related feels like an insult to my intelligence as well as a creepshow.

Compliment on intelligence and wit?  Gladly accepted.

I am really sorry you've had the misfortune to run into apparently a number of jerks who felt the need to insult your appearance. But I'd like to say that everybody has different tastes and if someone tells you that you are beautiful, there is a very good chance that they mean it.

Maybe I've just been lucky and haven't offended anyone, because I do pay attention and bow out if someone is not interested in talking to me. I am glad to hear that at least some women actually don't mind or even appreciate a well placed compliment every now and then.

Winterlight

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Re: Paying compliments is rude?
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2012, 11:10:39 AM »
A compliment during a conversation is probably safe, so long as it's politely phrased. I was buying an umbrella and chatting lightly with the vendor when he complimented my hairstyle, saying his daughter loved fancy braids and he'd never seen anyone with this style before. He thought it was really pretty and suited me very well. This was fine and made my day.

I think it's all about context- I've had strange women approach me and say they love my skirt or my earrings and I was perfectly comfortable with that. However, a man walking up and beginning a conversation that way would creep me out.

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To whom you speak,
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