-         Wow, I was watching you doing this thing…

-         What's wrong with it?

-         Nothing, it's just impressive…

-         What do you mean by that?

-         Uh, I mean… It’s great… You are great…

-         Okay, I am great. What do you want from me?

-         Nothing. I just want to compliment you. What’s wrong with it?

Really, what’s wrong with giving compliments?  Compliments are free and easy pleasure. They tell a person they are worthy of notice. Then why compliments are often taken as a faux flattery, insult or bribery? Why do they sound suspicious? Maybe we don’t believe the pure intention of making us feel good. And maybe we are right. Think about it: when someone flatters you, they also please themselves.

You can't pass along perfume without getting some on your hands.

Nothing is wrong with this. Let’s say, the compliment is a treat for two. It costs so little, it does not take much effort to let another person know that they are noticed and appreciated. So they will notice and appreciate us. The payoff is usually much greater than the original endeavor.  (Much like making love.)

Speaking of which, compliments are the essence of pick up lines. Some lines will make them walk away (fast); some may persuade them to stick around for more of your funny (romantic/witty/silly) self. It’s a game. You should know the rules. If you just ask “What’s your name?” they will answer “Why?”

Really, why? Why should she/he give you their name (phone number/house keys)?

Now, “You are cute, what’s your name?” may not go too far either, but at least you’ve already answered the question “Why?”

It is a basic strategy: butter up to hook up. Use compliments in your pick up lines.

-         You’re so beautiful you made me forget my pick up line.

Usually we are willing to take a pick up compliment from an attractive (romantic/funny/silly) stranger. Even more, we anticipate these compliments. We appreciate them. If they are not coming – we are losing the mating game and bruising our ego.

We can deal with flattery coming from lovers, family members, BFFs and subordinate co-workers. We are more or less accustomed to the sincerity and conspiracy of these people.

But what about compliments from random strangers (with no intent to hook up)? What do they want from us? Should we be alarmed? Or just relax and enjoy the sweet talk?

The best game-plan is to pretend that we agree with their comment (not being too arrogant though). Or act pleasantly surprised (while not being too humble.) Accept the compliment gracefully. Pay one back, if merited. Let people know that we appreciate them for appreciating us. Conduct ourselves as reasonably well-balanced, self-assured people. As a bonus, taking the compliments well can turn us into more well-balanced, self-assured people - which, in turn, will earn us more compliments.

Unfortunately, we often sabotage compliments, almost unconsciously, by putting ourselves down and pointing out our weaknesses.

-         Wow, you look great today.

-         Oh, but I feel so fat.

-         This outfit is amazing on you.

-         Eh, this old thing, I've had it for years.

-         You did a great job.

-         C’mon, you know it could be better.

Maybe we assume that the other person does not really mean it. Or maybe we just (unconsciously) making them work for it.

-         You are not fat.

-         Oh, yes, I am. You are just polite.

-         No, I am direct and honest. And you are perfect.

-         Are you kidding me?

-         No, I am serious. You are not fat. In fact, you are skinny…  Almost.

Let them give it to us three or four times, each time more insistently.  We probably still will not be convinced, but we may enjoy it.

It is a game. A woman telling another woman “You look great” may play one of the two scenarios:

“You really look good, bitch. I hate you. Now say it back to me.”


“You are ugly. But I am too nice to let you know.”

Now, the complemented lady makes an unexpected move:

-         Thank you, sweetie.

That’s it?!! So you admit you look good? (This is selfish). And you don’t even bother to mention that I am not bad myself?! (This is rude and inappropriate).

The compliment is wasted. It is not a treat for two anymore.

The game should be played fair.

When we sincerely compliment people on job well done, we probably have already enjoyed the results of their work. We are honestly paying them back. But we also (subconsciously?) hope that it can secure their good service for future.

-         That was the best Pap smear I’ve ever gotten.

It is a game. It is also art. A fine art of giving (and receiving) a well-tailored compliment. It requires practice. And brains (recommended). And sense of humor (in moderation). If you have to add “Just kidding”, it is not a compliment anymore. If you don’t add “Just kidding”, the compliment may become an insult.

-         That dress looks better on you every year.

-         I like your hair, especially the color at the roots.

-         You short people sure are intelligent.

-         You certainly do dress well ... for a fat man.

-         You're almost as smart as people say you think you are.

-         You must have been really pretty when you were young.

-         I bet you wash your hair.

Insulting someone with a compliment is insulting yourself. Remember? - You can't pass along perfume without getting some on your hands. So it better smell good.