Compliments are a common place in our world. We give them to express our admiration for a person’s appearance, brilliance and talent or simply to put a smile on their face. Sometimes, a compliment might be misconstrued and the giver “hacked” for his/her insensitivity.

In recent times, an interviewer raised hell and high water because an interviewee paid her a compliment. He said to her “You smell nice.” Long story short, the woman regarded the act of giving compliments in an interview as insulting as opposed to the compliment itself (this is debatable, of course). So many people took to social media to take sides on the matter. Who would have thought such a simple sentence could cause a racket.

The aim of this article is not to analyse the rightness or otherwise of the event that took place but to call attention to the significance of compliments as well as when giving them is unwelcomed.

It is pertinent to mention that the giving and receiving of compliments should be encouraged. Saying otherwise is throwing the baby out with the bath water; so some people have bad or wrong intentions when giving compliments – it still does not change the fact that compliments are good in themselves.

That some people have bad or wrong intentions when giving compliments – it still does not change the fact that compliments are good in themselves. Click To Tweet

Their usage is another story entirely.  A simple compliment can lift up our spirits especially when we have had a stressful day. Imagine the wondrous feeling that courses through our body when someone compliments our efforts. Compliments are like a balm to the soul but can leave a bad taste in the mouth when unwelcomed.

Compliments are like a balm to the soul but can leave a bad taste in the mouth when unwelcomed. Click To Tweet

When Compliments Are Unwelcome? Here you go;

1. At a funeral.

Really? Maybe at the funeral of a person who lived a long and fulfilling life but generally speaking, funerals are not the place to give compliments nonstop.  Please have some self-respect and evaluate the situation before doing so or you might come off as unsympathetic and undiscerning.

2. In an interview.

The atmosphere of the interview will set its tone in motion. Some interviewers prefer a strictly formal atmosphere, some a light one. You just have to identify the cues and speech patterns. If an interviewer pays you a compliment, reply with a polite thank you and nothing more (except if necessary).

If asked to talk about the company/organisation, you can seize the opportunity and give suitable compliments, however, make sure they are not personal compliments to the interviewer(s) but directly tied to the company’s brand, achievements and so forth.

If asked to talk about the company, you can seize the opportunity and give suitable compliments, however, make sure they are not personal compliments to the interviewer but directly to the company’s achievements. Click To Tweet

3. When they refer to certain physical attributes of the receiver.

Body size is the focus here as many of us are guilty of pointing out sudden changes of this nature.  It is insensitive to compliment people on their weight gain/loss especially if we do not have an inside information about their personal view of these physical attributes/change. If you notice anything shocking in a person’s body size, it is better to overlook it. Rather than say, “you look well” or “you look bigger/slimmer”, a “How are you?” is much safer.

It is insensitive to compliment people on their weight gain/loss especially if we do not have an inside information about their personal view of these physical attributes/change. Click To Tweet If you notice anything shocking in a person’s body size, it is better to overlook it. Rather than say, 'you look well' or 'you look bigger/slimmer', a 'How are you?' is much safer. Click To Tweet

4. When fishing for compliments.

Giving compliments with the aim of getting another in return reeks of sneakiness. Compliments in themselves are supposed to be sincere and unassuming, so please do not go fishing for them. It gets on peoples’ nerves especially when it has become a known habit of yours.

Giving compliments with the aim of getting another in return reeks of sneakiness. Click To Tweet

The above situations are not exclusive so please comment below so that we can learn from you.

Now, let it be emphasised that we do not have to get sensitive when receiving compliments or become paranoid about giving them. Saying “you smell nice” or “you look nice” should not cause rancour or mask sly intentions. Sometimes, we misread compliments because we already have a preconceived notion about others’ opinion of us. Therefore, before raising your hackles up to attack, first take a deep breath, they probably mean no harm.

Sometimes, we misread compliments because we already have a preconceived notion about others’ opinion of us. Therefore, before raising your hackles up to attack, first take a deep breath, they probably mean no harm. Click To Tweet

By Omobolanle Abiola

Related Article – Why You Should Compliment Somebody Today


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