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When compliments go wrong, part 2

October 14, 2013

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Thinking about praise this week, I remembered how compliments can go wrong with insincere attempts.

I hit upon another pet peeve: too many compliments.

It may seem impossible in our cold, cruel world to have too many compliments. Certainly, we hear many complaints about people and companies and meals and TV shows and songs and on and on.

But I find myself often wearying at an endless stream of praise. They might be compliments to ensure everyone in a group or a team is included. They might be the unsophisticated musings of the masses.

I find myself pickier about who I ask for recommendations. I cast a jaundiced eye at heaps of praise on anything and everything.

And I struggle. I try to make sure my compliments come forth regularly, but that they come from a place of true admiration, rather than a superficial reflex. I want my words to count.

Perhaps, my cynicism gets in the way. Or I need to be less stingy with kind words. But I still wonder what would happen if others were more selective about their compliments. Would they have more impact, more credibility?

Or would the world be a sadder place?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2013 11:42 am

    I am with you Wade, be stingy to make it count. I remember a lively discussion in grad school about giving constructive crits’ and most of the class felt that they needed to be couched in kind words to ameliorate the “blow”. I was vehement that if the criticism was truly constructive and intended to aid the person, then there is no “blow”. When as, starting and ending with kind words makes the criticism seem even worse because the person thought it was so awful that they needed to lighten it up. I, then, felt compelled to add a positive to every negative because the rest of the class felt that was the right thing to do.

    • October 14, 2013 3:46 pm

      It is very human to want to soften the blow, even if the criticism could help someone improve.

      But I do struggle with the balance of stingy vs. generous.

      Thanks for your comment, Laurl.

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