How do you deal with backhand compliments?
How do you recognize a backhand compliment?
Ah, the inconsiderate compliment. The most clichéd version of this comment could be, "Your face is so pretty when you've lost just a little weight ...". But there are a million variations, from subtle comments about hair or clothes to misjudging a verbal winky face. It can be difficult to figure out if such awkward "compliments" are really disguised insults (sometimes not very good disguises), or if they can provide constructive ways to make yourself feel better about your looks, to who is saying them and what their intentions are. How would you interpret and react to these situations? Situation # 1 You have just moved to the city your sister lives in. With her help, you joined her family's golf club. You play a little golf but you've really been committed to the social opportunities and meeting new people in your new home. Tonight you're all going to a summer club cookout so you can put on your favorite shorts, tops and flip flops. When you walk to her car, your sister says, "It's a little more formal than that - can you change something nicer, please?" Situation # 2 They have put hours of work into impressing you supervisor with your latest project. It pays off, and she invites you to join her for a meeting with several other high-level managers. As you talk about the agenda, she mentions that if you wear something more conservative than your usual work style, you will be more comfortable at the meeting. You are tempted to answer that you do not want your fashion judgments for your work, but that you appreciate their support and appreciation, which would not be the smartest answer. Situation # 3 You hang out with a bunch of friends and the conversation becomes style. Before you know it, they decided to give you a makeover. After a while, you find yourself with a new hairstyle and makeup style, wearing an outfit of borrowed clothes that is completely different from your own. Some of the changes you like, some don't, but all of your friends say you look great. Situation # 4 As the writer Robin Kurth says in his article "My 'Naked Truth", you are a very fit 59-year-old woman. After meeting a seemingly wonderful man, 55, ask him why he rejects your approach to intimacy. He is bluntly telling you that it is not attracted to your 59 year old body because it has "spoiled" itself with younger women. The good news is that you can now employ strategies (like undressing in the dark, wearing certain stockings and dresses) that will help him get past his looks so that you can still have a close relationship. Hell no, you tell him and you try to heal your battered confidence. These different scenarios are likely to elicit different responses - likely depending on the source of the comment and the reason for saying it. For example, the first and second stories appear to be at least positively motivated and devoid of malice. If you take it personally, you won't get anywhere - while taking it to heart, it could bring you new friends or a promotion. The fourth example of the dating couple is clearly objectionable (and I secretly hope Karma brings him a similar comment from a younger woman). No debate there. But the makeover is a little harder to predict. You may feel like you are being criticized and like your friends are getting involved, or it could be good-natured and fun. It depends on the dynamics of friendships and the base of your self-esteem. If you find yourself at the end of any of these comments trying to decide whether it is a compliment, "constructive criticism", or an insulting insult, ponder these considerations but have no confidence to trust your instincts when you do feel that you are the joke or the target of assault or other form of bullying you should definitely ignore the comment. If the same person repeatedly creates such situations and you are unable to end the relationship (e.g. a job), you may want to consider calmly confronting the behavior and sharing your perceptions. If it's not a necessary relationship and the behavior doesn't stop, it is probably time to make new friends. Real friends should build you up, not tear you down.
Disparate Pieces | Critical Role | Campaign 2, Episode 4 (May 2021).
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