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Vegan, Cat lover, Quotes maniac & Purple obsessed / Localization Expert, Localization Manager, Blogger and Translator (DE/EN/FR > IT)
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what do you think about people paying someone else left-handed compliments?

- You know, the first time we met, I really didn't like you that much.
- I didn't like you.
- Yeah you did. You were just so uptight then. You're much softer now.
- (She stops and puts both hands on her waist) You know, I hate that kind of remark. It sounds like a compliment, but really it's an insult.
- OK, you're still as hard as nails.
- I just didn't want to sleep with you, and you had to write it off as a character flaw instead of dealing with the possibility that it might have something to do with you.
- What's the statute of limitations on apologies?
- Ten years.
- Ooh. I can just get it in under the wire.

Billy Crystal as Harry Burns
Meg Ryan as Sally Albright
When Harry Met Sally... by Rob Reiner (USA, 1989)

[When Harry Met Sally... 
One of the best comedies of the last 25 years, 
or how one can pay homage to the wonderful classic comedies 
by George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder in an original way]

I don't know about you, but I like it when someone pays me a compliment. 
I do like to hear someone telling me that I am smart, intelligent, funny, sensitive, sexy, or professional. I like to hear that my dress is elegant, that my make up is perfect, that I did a good job, that I said something interesting, that I am a fantastic friend. I like to be appreciated. 
When someone tells me something nice, I usually smile and say "Thank you!". And I mean it every single time.

Does this sound like a no-brainer to you?
Well, in my experience some people find such a situation very stressful indeed. 
They don't know how to react, or they are not sure that the compliment is genuine. They are afraid of sarcasm and bad jokes. They feel insecure. 
Those people usually try to minimize the compliment itself, to make it sound less important, less personal, less intimate, somehow less compromising.

[How not to respond to compliments...
do these scenarios look familiar to you?]

While hearing a compliment, they may think that they now have to free themselves from an obligation. Or that someone is just trying to manipulate them. Who would love to be manipulated, after all?

With the time I came to the conclusion that not only paying a compliment, but even more accepting a compliment is unfortunately a forgotten art. Most people tend to take a lot of things for granted, without understanding that paying a compliment can make someone else's day. That a sincere compliment is a truly beautiful gift and that the recipient will probably never forget it.

Accepting a compliment, on the other hand, means to establish a connection, to build a relationship, to pay attention to how someone else is seeing us. To be vulnerable, in some way.  
And it has even more to do with showing self-confidence and self-acceptance.

Not accepting a compliment it's not about being humble, in my opinion. It means to me lack of respect for someone else's point of view and/or taste instead. 
If I tell you that you look great and you reply that this is not true, then you are expressing a doubt about my capacity to give an opinion or even about my feelings.

Even worse than that are to me the so called 'left-handed compliments'. A left-handed compliment is, just like the quote from 'When Harry Met Sally...' above the post explains, the kind of statement that could sound like a compliment, but it means actually something negative or ironic or caustic about the compliment recipient.

A couple of days ago, a woman that I see every six months or so, told me (once again...) something like: "You are so beautiful, you look great! Every time that I see you, you are even more beautiful than the previous one. Well, you don't have children, so you have for sure plenty of time to take care of your appearance".

I beg your pardon?

[The Queen (Julia Roberts) taking care of her appearance
in Mirror Mirror (2012) by Tarsem Singh] 

Helena Rubinstein was used to say that "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones", while meaning that beauty has less to do with fate and definitely more to do with time spent on it, sacrifices, perseverance and hard work. 

Yes, taking care of one's appearance costs time. But it is to me something related to self-discipline, esteem for oneself and personal branding. I want to be the best possible version of myself and to show others only this side of me. To walk the line and take care of myself. Everybody is free to do what one considers the right option for himself/herself in this instance.

But why should one pay someone a left-handed compliment just for the sake of making someone feel bad about himself/herself or of belittling him/her?

I personally consider this negative attitude a perfect litmus paper about someone's real personality.
It says way more about the other person than about how much time I could eventually spend looking in the mirror every day.

What do you think?
Are you good at taking compliments?

Tags: When Harry Met Sally, Quotes, Compliments, Taking compliments, Left-handed compliments, Beauty

Previous posts:
Why do I love so much 'When Harry Met Sally...'?
Quando ha senso chiedere scusa?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to check out in tricky situations, or why the right silence tastes better than the usual lemonade

"Fools," said I, "You do not know 
Silence like a cancer grows 
Hear my words that I might teach you 
Take my arms that I might reach you" 
But my words like silent raindrops fell 
And echoed in the wells of silence
Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence 
(Sounds of Silence, 1966)

Things, situations and people are not always as we would love them to be.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, they say.

[When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...
Image source: semiswede]

This is for sure a good point, and yet not everybody likes lemonade, if you know what I mean.
One can for sure stay positive, have a strong can-do attitude and be able to smile and keep doing what one has to do also during hard times or while dealing with a jerk. But sometimes it just doesn't work anyway or any longer. Sometimes the whole situation is just too much for one to deal with.

In these cases one needs to check out and to do it fast. To change something in one's life. To take a break. To say goodbye to someone. Or to make it clear that something is over.

While being in an unpleasant situation or dealing with someone that makes it very difficult to communicate with him/her or that is used to disappear or not to pay attention to you, does it make sense to tell the person that well, you are about to check out and he/she will not get other chances to treat you in a bad way or to ignore you?

[Silence can be magic...
or graphically beautiful, like in this Purple cover of Enjoy the silence]

Yes. And no. It depends.
If the person is used to talk to you often and to search for you in the first place, then you should inform that not so nice guy/gal that you are not available any longer. That the game is over. That you are free, effective immediately.
You can do it in a very positive way thanks to Nonviolent Communication and the right frame for constructive feedback.

If the person is not used to talk to you often and she/he is not going to search for you unless you will, why bother to talk to her/him once again? Why waste your words and your time to say "Starting immediately, I will not talk to you any longer" or something similar?

[Make room for something different in your life 
thanks to a magic ingredient: the silence]

"Show, don't tell" is still a golden rule.
Just avoid to search for the person in the future. Save your energy. Live your life at its best. And enjoy your new freedom. Time and silence will do the rest for you.

Make room for something or someone worth your words, not only your silence. 

Tags: Silence, Saying goodbye, Relationships, Tricky situations, The Sound of Silence, Lyrics

Previous posts:
The good old motto "Show, don't tell" is hale and hearty. How can you show your skills?
Mae West, the art of love & the golden silence
A cool t-shirt, the secret of sarcasm and a smile