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Dale Carnegie’s advice on compliments: make them specific, effusive, genuine, and public. Specific compliments – good idea. I can get behind that. Effusive compliments…in public? Feels a little disingenuous. Maybe I’m not particularly effusive, but in my life, I think I’ve only deserved…two effusive compliments. Genuinely effusive public compliments? What game are we playing at here? The fact that Carnegie felt the need to clarify compliments should be genuine implies that there is an epidemic in America – one of insincere compliments.

The psychology of compliments is interesting. In general, people like compliments. People like feeling appreciated, noticed, lifted up, distinguished. Why? Well, I’m not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion the answers might lie in some uglier parts of human nature – insecurity, attention-seeking, and boastfulness are words that come to mind. The psychology of giving a compliment is also rather interesting. It’s a safe bet; after all, it’s totally unreasonable to resent someone for complimenting you. You should compliment everyone! Especially specifically, genuinely, effusively, and publicly.

I abhor compliments. If you’re reading this, don’t compliment me.

Why? Well, I don’t know. All I have are questions, not answers.

Why is it that I get warm fuzzies from compliments? Do I need affirmation? Is my measure of self-worth dependent on the opinions of others? I bristle at the idea! Why is it that public compliments also make me feel awkward? Do I not deserve the compliment? Is being singled out for praise inherently a diss of everyone else in the room? Why is this person complimenting me? Are they a syncophant? Are they Maybe I’m overthinking it. Here’s the gut reaction – people who eat up compliments are self-aggrandizing folks who assemble an echo chamber for themselves. There is even a species of human that actively fishes for compliments. This is not the kind of person I want to be. Enough said.


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