I am currently a church musician (pianist) and have been at the same church for many years.
There is this one guy who quite frequently walks over to me while I'm playing, always making comments directed towards me such as "you just get better and better every week" or "you have more talent in your fingers than I have in my entire body". For one, I have not been working on increasing skill or learning more difficult music for the longest time, so I can't possibly get better by the week. On occasion, I even intentionally play music so simple that I use only one finger to play an entire song, and he still "compliments" me. Every time he does this, it becomes so repetitive, somewhat dishonest, and worthless, and all I've ever responded was "Thank you".
It's getting very annoying, and I find it more difficult not to roll my eyes or keep a straight face. I'm probably still going to respond with my best courteous "Thank you".
This same individual has voiced his opinion to someone else (I've overheard) that he thinks music in church is such a waste of time, and is the reason why he and his wife don't participate in congregational singing or attend music concerts held in church. And no, never has he specifically said to me that he appreciates my performance or even my efforts. To me, if one regards music in church as wasteful, it makes no sense to compliment at all those involved in it. So, whenever he "compliments" me, I feel like like he's being dishonest, or, if he really means it, I find the frequency of the complimenting quite creepy. I want to say something, but I don't know how to approach this kind of a situation.
I'm not sure if this is pertinent, but I know that this individual believes and upholds the idea that he can say anything he wants, and if ever it offends anyone, it's their fault; and to anyone even requesting him not to say certain things, he regards them as taking away his freedom of speech. I know this because he voices out these sentiments on his social media accounts. For those of you who really want to know how he reacts when told he is acting inappropriately - he posts stuff on his social media like:
- "I'm crazy, weird, etc. That's how I am. Deal with it. I'm not changing my behavior to please anyone."
- "You're telling me to shut up or act accordingly, so you are attempting to take away my right to speak my mind."
- "Once again, Facebook reprimanded me for my behavior. They know nothing about my rights."
- "I admit that people think that I think I know everything and are upset about it. That's their problem. I know a lot and their knowledge is all false information."
To me, those are clear enough indications that he doesn't want to be corrected, and any such attempts no matter how tactful, is equivalent to infringing his rights. I'll just suck it up and embrace the awkwardness of playing along as usual - much better than getting into a fight with someone like this, and yes, he carries a gun to church as he makes it visible, so I'll choose my safety just keep playing along.
So, for those who want to know, how do I tell someone if I detect they're being fake? Most of the time, I'll say nothing and give them back a fake smile. Sometimes, I'll tell them that they're too kind for saying such a thing. Sometimes, I'll tell them that I don't feel that I come up to par as they claim. No, I don't tell them off that "hey, you're being fake. Cut that out." But they stop complimenting me eventually. This guy doesn't.
How do you conduct yourself when interacting with a "chronic empty complimenter" who also happens to get angry at any hint that he should change his behavior?