Etiquette School is in session! > The Ehell Guide to Never Behaving Badly

Compliment etiquette

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Emmy:
Another thread reminded me of something: If somebody makes a change to their appearance, never tell them how bad they looked before.

Good:  "That haircut looks great and the color really suits you"

Bad:  "That haircut looks great and the color really suits you.  Your hair looked so flat and lifeless before and the color really washed you out."

I would also err on the side of caution for weight loss compliments.  If somebody is working on losing weight and is open about it, they would probably appreciate somebody telling them they looked great.  However, if somebody doesn't mention it, I probably wouldn't say anything.

Since compliments on appearance can easily be taken wrong, it's probably best to save them for those you are closest to so there are no misunderstandings.  In environments such as work, I probably would be much more likely to compliment somebody of my same gender and on something like clothing or a change in hairstyle.  I am flattered when a stranger compliments an item of my clothing so I don't mind complimenting a stranger if it seems appropriate.

Yvaine:
I think it's generally safer to compliment people on something they chose on purpose to make themselves look good (haircut, outfit, jewelry) than on something their body just did (like height). So the brooch is probably safe with most people.

I'll also agree about weight loss being a tricky subject. If someone lost weight, for example, they might have been dieting on purpose to lose it...or they might be seriously ill and have lost it by accident. I've heard from a number of people that it can be hurtful when they're miserable with chemo/Crohn's/whatever and everyone is gushing because it made them thinner in the process. I tend to leave weight alone unless I know the person well enough to know they're intentionally trying to gain or lose.

TurtleDove:
I think you can comment about "weight" without commenting about weight.  I often compliment people with, "You look great! You seem really happy!"  They may follow it up with, "Thanks!  I've been doing Crossfit and I love how I feel!"  But it isn't a comment of, "Have you lost weight?"

Yvaine:

--- Quote from: TurtleDove on November 30, 2012, 01:25:52 PM ---I think you can comment about "weight" without commenting about weight.  I often compliment people with, "You look great! You seem really happy!"  They may follow it up with, "Thanks!  I've been doing Crossfit and I love how I feel!"  But it isn't a comment of, "Have you lost weight?"

--- End quote ---

Yeah, you can tell someone they look great, in a vague sort of way--even if it's because you can tell they've lost weight--and let them bring it up or not as they choose. :)

katycoo:
I hate compliments for the hell of it.  They lose their meaning. Compliments should be reserved for when something really is great.  And usually, in those circumstances, the recipient can hear the genuine sentiment in your delivery.

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