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192 votes
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Complimenting a female co-worker without coming across as flirting?

Coming from my experience in receiving compliments from men I didn't know very well, I'd suggest focusing on complimenting the shirt vs complimenting the person wearing the shirt. For instance, ...
Jess K.'s user avatar
  • 22.7k
111 votes

How do I tell between compliments and 'ball' jokes while juggling?

There isn't really a fool proof way to tell a joke from a compliment, unless it's immediately apparent from the tone of voice or context. Are they pointing and laughing? Do they sound snide or ...
apaul's user avatar
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90 votes

Complimenting a female co-worker without coming across as flirting?

Jess K.'s answer is spot-on, but I wanted to add some additional detail. The challenge is not only what your friend says but how he says it. Body language, eye contact, tone, cadence, and other ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 6,807
50 votes

Is it socially acceptable to dismiss a compliment?

Rude would be arguing with the compliment. An honest gracious response is, generally, not rude. Humility is also important, which you seem to have a good deal of. That's a good thing as well. I ...
baldPrussian's user avatar
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45 votes

Complimenting a female co-worker without coming across as flirting?

As a straight married male not interested in flirting and trying to avoid awkwardness, he should avoid complimenting members of the opposite sex on things he noticed for making them look attractive. ...
dr jimbob's user avatar
  • 575
44 votes

How to respond to "empty compliments" after many years of playing along?

Perhaps instead of replying mindlessly, reply mindfully? Often, people just go through the motions with pleasantries without considering the content. Consider the following exchange I've witnessed ...
Forklift's user avatar
  • 2,244
38 votes
Accepted

How to respond to "empty compliments" after many years of playing along?

Situations involving backhanded compliments are tricky because if you escalate things, the other party can play the victim quite easily. For example, if you tell him to stop, he can just say: Well ...
Clay07g's user avatar
  • 5,045
34 votes

Is there a general rule for when/how to compliment a stranger?

Context Matters Your heuristic analysis is somewhat correct, but there are many driving factors here and the current answers don't even begin to cover (except @Catija's) them. It's much safer to ...
Bradley Wilson's user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

How to tactfully respond to compliments when I don't feel I deserve them?

I have good news for you, according to research compiled by the University of Minnesota, it's not the American way to accept a compliment. In fact, Americans rarely accept compliments. Deflecting or ...
scohe001's user avatar
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28 votes
Accepted

Is it socially acceptable to dismiss a compliment?

Yes, directly dismissing a compliment is rude, and will be frustrating to the person who gave the compliment. With that said, you aren't required to agree with them to graciously accept the ...
Kat's user avatar
  • 5,871
23 votes

Complimenting a female co-worker without coming across as flirting?

The difference between compliment and inappropriate behaviour is in the way you do it, more than what you do. You can easily compliment people, by Making clear through your behaviour that this is ...
Stilez's user avatar
  • 2,050
21 votes

Is it socially acceptable to dismiss a compliment?

I think in most situations, coming off as rude is going to depend a lot on your tone. I feel like one of the safest answers to nicely dismissing a compliment might be to preface it with 'thanks': &...
Jess K.'s user avatar
  • 22.7k
21 votes

How to deal with an employer's backhanded compliments?

Without hearing the actual intonation it's hard to know, but it is possible that the "I don't know why" has two interpretations: one is the offensive one that you're thinking of, but it ...
Maxim's user avatar
  • 3,071
17 votes

Is there a general rule for when/how to compliment a stranger?

First and foremost. Catcalls are not compliments. Catcalls are the attempt by one person to draw the attention of the other person to them for their own benefit. Here's a Buzzfeed article that ...
Catija's user avatar
  • 14.2k
16 votes

Complimenting a complete stranger on public transportation

One of the problems with talking to people on public transportation is that they may feel social pressure to continue to interact with you. This can be extremely awkward, especially in the context of ...
Summer's user avatar
  • 1,697
15 votes

How to politely turn down my surprise birthday celebration at work?

Seems like people hasn't known about your belief before. If they had known before, they will respect you by leaving you alone that day (well, perhaps with extra, but subtle, kindness, although they ...
Vylix's user avatar
  • 8,468
14 votes
Accepted

How do I tell between compliments and 'ball' jokes while juggling?

Here are the steps to dealing with pretty much every interaction you're going to have while juggling: Don't take yourself too seriously Most people are familiar with juggling as a performance. Penn ...
Bloodgain's user avatar
  • 484
14 votes
Accepted

How to compliment a woman’s makeup?

TL;DR Focus on her skills or the tastes she has, not on how she looks. Background I'm a woman, I don't wear makeup (and never did for various reasons). However, some people still complement the ...
Ael's user avatar
  • 17.2k
12 votes

Is it rude to compliment Northern/Western European girls on their appearance?

Part of the problem is the amount of sexual harassment girls and women receive from strangers. To give you an idea, on my way to school and back I started to avoid the shortest path because there ...
Purrrple's user avatar
  • 3,105
12 votes

How do appreciate people's creations that take very little effort

As per your question: Is there a way for me to think about this kind of stuff that would help me feel as others seem to here? Feel encouraging. Feel appreciation. Rather than what I typically feel ...
Markino's user avatar
  • 3,371
11 votes
Accepted

How to deal with an employer's backhanded compliments?

(It seems I'm very late to the party, but the party was over before this began, so I'll take a shot anyway.) To my seasoned eyes, this feels unlikely to be malicious. I think the hurt you feel is ...
Aiken Drum's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

How to gracefully accept an implied/indirect compliment?

I have had great success with I'll take that as a compliment Followed by a grin that suggests perhaps I'm being a little cheeky in taking a compliment where it might not have been intended. ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
  • 44.8k
11 votes
Accepted

How could I have better handled telling this minority woman I liked her cultural hairstyle?

I don't typically comment on aspects of people's appearances because I try to avoid finding myself in a situation such as you've found yourself in, but I have witnessed it on many occasions, and I ...
Rainbacon's user avatar
  • 9,012
9 votes

I do art. When people say "draw me", do I include their physical appearance flaws?

Luckily since Cromwell ('warts and all') and photography you will be able to draw exactly as you like. One caveat. If the asker never has seen your work. At least announce that you do caricatures. ...
Bookeater's user avatar
  • 4,739
9 votes

How to politely turn down my surprise birthday celebration at work?

Just say: Hey, can we talk? I might have overheard you were throwing a surprise party. Can you do me a favor and not organize one. I don't believe in birthdays for this and this reason. Thanks. (...
Joel Harkes's user avatar
  • 1,214
9 votes

Is it socially acceptable to dismiss a compliment?

In some cultures (eg some Asian cultures) it is more socially acceptable to "deny" it than to accept it unchallenged, such as by saying "It's not as good as I wanted" or "I ...
trr's user avatar
  • 766
9 votes

Complimenting a female co-worker without coming across as flirting?

Firstly, a rule of thumb that I find works for many (heterosexual) males: Think of a compliment. Pretend she's a man. If the compliment suddenly seems homoerotic, 'weird' or doesn't seem like a ...
Pharap's user avatar
  • 869
9 votes

How to respond to strangers who shout compliments across the street?

If the compliment seems positive and sincere and you want to acknowledge it politely, a smile and a wave or thumbs up is appropriate. You can say "Thanks" or give a compliment in return if the ...
Meg's user avatar
  • 4,899

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