Ben Langhinrichs

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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Sun 8 Jan 2006, 09:42 AM
In general, I am a big fan of compliments.  I like to give them.  I like to receive them.  Nonetheless, there are some compliments that fall short of the mark, hurting rather than feeling good.  These fall into three basic levels.  

The first level is damning with faint praise.  For example, there is the "You've clearly put a lot of time into that project.", which unless it is accompanied with something else such as "It is fricking amazing." generally means both "Why did you waste your time?" and "How stupid could you be?".

The second level is the anti-compliment.  For example, there is the "You still do [fill in whatever activity you want] really well.", which basically indicates that you have not only entered your dotage, it is just plain astounding that you can rise up out of your rocking chair and do anything.

And then there is the third level...  This is the scariest level of all in some ways.  This is the dreaded compliment from your daughter who is home from college and says "You are the most awesome Dad ever!"  That one really hits where it hurts, in the wallet!

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