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December 30, 2013

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Compliments!

Interesting quote from an article about why men don't generally welcome comments on their appearance:

In wanting to be praised for his looks, it would appear my date falls into a minority, according to one 1990 study by researchers at SUNY Binghamton and the University of the Witwatersrand, which concluded that compliments from men were generally accepted, especially by female recipients, but "compliments from women are met with a response type other than acceptance": as a threat.

Men often see compliments as "face-threatening acts," or acts intended to embarrass or patronize, the study authors found. What was meant as a nicety could be seen as a way to assert control.

Funny - that's pretty much the feminist take (one we never understood or agreed with, by the way, but it seems more than a little ironic that men appear to interpret compliments on their appearance in exactly the same way feminists do). Must make way more sense when men do it :p

We've been known to compliment men we know on their appearance, but such remarks generally take the form of something like, "That suit/tie looks especially nice on you", or "New beard/haircut! I like it/you look nice!".

It's pretty alarming to think that fairly innocuous remarks like that would be seen as hitting on another person, but I suppose the delivery and context may have some influence on how they're perceived. For whatever it may be worth, we've generally gotten a pretty good response though it has sometimes been clear that the recipient was a little surprised.

It's exactly the same kind of thing we'd say to a female co-worker, though. How do people know when an outfit or hair cut looks nice if everyone's afraid to say so?

Posted by Cassandra at December 30, 2013 08:42 AM

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That's a very weird article. Men shouldn't troll for compliments, to be sure. Receiving a compliment gracefully is an ordinary part of learning to be a gentleman.

Posted by: Grim at December 30, 2013 02:43 PM

That's kind of how I've always thought. Applies equally to ladies.

The comments were weird too - a lot of guys talking about how compliments from women they're not attracted to make them uncomfortable :p

More and more these days I'm struck by the current "individualism" ethos, where people seem to view almost everything through the "me" lens. My parents raised us to think of ourselves as part of one or more overlapping groups (family, church, community, friends). Whatever happened to, "It's not all about you"?. That's pretty much the entire point of manners.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2013 03:04 PM

PC aside, where are these "compliments to men" about appearance coming from? In 60-odd years I only remember one time a non-family woman sort-of complimented me, remarking on my upright posture and when I showed puzzlement expanding that she had only seen it in military personnel. Still not sure how to take that...

Posted by: John A at December 30, 2013 03:16 PM

Yeah, I don't get compliments much either. Which is fine -- I assume they aren't warranted. :)

John Wayne had "Feo, Fuerte y Formal" put on his tombstone, the first word of which means 'ugly.' If that's good enough for him, I'm certainly not going to complain.

Still, if it comes up that a woman should compliment you -- and if any young men are reading who don't know the way to respond properly -- the response is always the same. "Thank you, ma'am."

Posted by: Grim at December 30, 2013 03:22 PM

I notice good posture, so that doesn't surprise me :)

Sounds like a sincere compliment to me, though of course I wasn't there. A man's bearing says a lot about him.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2013 03:41 PM

Yeah, I don't get compliments much either. Which is fine -- I assume they aren't warranted. :)

Not necessarily. Believe it or not, women sometimes find the gruff male exterior a bit forbidding. My husband can be that way on the surface.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2013 03:43 PM

Thank you, ma'am. (Comparisons between myself and your excellent husband are clear examples of compliments from a lady, and I am always pleased to receive them.)

Posted by: Grim at December 30, 2013 04:07 PM


Posted by: Cassandra at December 30, 2013 04:12 PM