The art of the compliment

20 Feb

Everyone – men, women, pets and probably even robots– love hearing a compliment once in a while; even your cat/dog/gerbil responds well to “What a good kitty/puppy/gerbilly!” There is a distinct art to pulling off compliments – especially for women that you are involved with/getting involved with – in a way that is natural. No one wants a forced compliment.

The compliment is a bit of a paradox. People notice when they’re complimented and when they are not. Some women expect to be told that they look pretty/cute whenever they see their man in question and will assume that they look ugly if the man does not compliment them (even though it’s entirely possible that he simply forgot to say something and thought that his girl was looking pretty). Never complimenting is a bad thing. We here at the Yale Men’s Guide have met such men and have found that they give off the perception that they’re too self-absorbed to compliment. You don’t want to be that. However – and this is where the paradox comes in – if you compliment too much, she’s not going to believe you when you do compliment her and mean it (repeated iterations of “Oh you’re just saying that!” indicate this line of thought).
So here are the basic rules of compliments:
1. If you’re going to compliment, it should be one of the first things that you say to her/him/it. Slip in a line just after the “hey, how are you’s” are over with.
2. Compliments, to be done well, should seem nonchalant and truthful at the same time. Always saying things like “you’re beautiful” is a bit overkill. “You look nice” or “you look cute” or “I really like the way you look in that dress” is perfect. Unless she actually is the most beautiful girl in the world, don’t overuse it as a compliment (or at least, not at the outset of seeing her). There are times when it is appropriate to be effusive in your complimenting (think whenever she’s naked). If you think she looks pretty, say so. Never assume that she knows that you think she’s pretty.
3. Appearance doesn’t and shouldn’t be the only thing you compliment! He/she/it might also like to know that you appreciate his/her/its intelligence, DVD collection, cooking abilities or superhero powers. “You do that really well” or “you’re so smart!” work well in these situations.
4. Don’t be creepy about it. Yes, some types of compliments can be creepy, especially if they’re super specific or bizarre. Complimenting her manner of speech, for instance, is a kind of off the beaten track when it comes to compliments. Telling her that you like the way that she tucks her hair behind her ear if you don’t know her that well can, in fact, be creepy.
5. Compliments seem most genuine when they’re specific (see: “That dress looks really good on you”). Specifics = you noticed something = you were bothering to notice = you realize the effort behind the thing that got your notice. Congratulations.

6. Compliments and sex. It’s a bit of a tricky issue, and obviously every girl is different, but generally when she’s naked, she’s going to be more sensitive to what you say. “Have you gained weight? Your boobs are bigger!” will not go over well. In fact, just avoid complimenting specific body parts entirely (with the exception of her butt) because that way lies a really big whole into which you can only dig yourself deeper. Telling her she’s beautiful, however, is totally appropriate and general enough not to lead you into a maze of increasingly difficult to answer questions. (So you like my legs? Do you think they’re nicer than my stomach? So you think I’m fat?!)


One Response to “The art of the compliment”

  1. Anon March 7, 2012 at 11:56 PM #

    unrelated to this post, but what are different ways to approach a girl that one might be interested in romantically, given different scenarios as

    – just saw her in the bookstore
    – been in the same extracurricular activity, but haven’t spoken much
    – taking the same class, etc.?

    thanks guys, i really enjoy the blog!

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