Iron sharpens Iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. Proverbs 27:17
A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life, but wilful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Why not just be straight?
That’s a really good question. A lot of people have had some experiences that I have numbered down to a few suggestions:
a) It is very possible that the recipient may feel like their being hit on. This is obviously the case with a man complimenting a woman or boy complimenting a girl. Now I use the term, “being hit on,” very loosely because there sometimes can be no avoiding the special treatment when it comes to ulterior motives, meaning you are suddenly King Of The Hill or Queen B when your ears get tickled with affirmative terms. In such cases it will not matter which gender is complimenting which.
a-ii) The giver’s body language compromising them so that no matter how innocent the intent is or may appear to be, they dig themselves a hole the second they utter the first word. Their tone of voice, facial expression, and hand gestures are the main culprits responsible for their disaster.
b) The recipient’s insecurity resulting from emotional and psychological manipulation in and from the past. This is very much related to the conclusive point I made in my first proposition. When the recipient is made to feel really good about whatever has been spoken about them, they feel obliged to repay the favor with an action. This is a process that could easily take a long time to fulfil because of its sensitive nature, meaning how easy it is to sniff out deceit. The more the recipient lowers their guard, the greater the chances are of exploiting them. The worst is when they feel compelled to return the favor, kind of like an equivalent exchange deal: you do for me what I do for you.
I know part (b) may be a bit extreme but it was the only example I could think of as far as understanding why some people find it hard to receive compliments, or become self-conscious. I wanted to paint a picture that made enough sense to at least have an idea as to what the emotional and psychological background, and ultimately, the reason (for negative reception) could be. Now I am no psychologist but I like to imagine the possibilities for certain things happening and why, in this case, it is more effective to give indirect compliments.
I grew up having been dissed every day close to my whole school life. As a result of that whenever people did say nice things about me, it was quite hard to receive. For me it was because I was less comfortable with direct kindness, I contribute that to the direct harshness I received. I was too soft spoken to diss back. I could not think quick enough to come up with a better come back than what was dished at me.
Thinking over the years about why I did not like it when someone complimented me, I linked it back to my love language. I knew it was not words, and that is what I concluded for a very, very long time in my life. Then what happened to me happened to others from my angle. I hated the fact that sometimes my compliments were not always received regardless of the fact that I had no ulterior motives. Shallow expressions of gratitude, especially those brought from passive smiles gave me the heads up. I experimented with certain words and realized the impact each one had on an individual. Being a guy, it mattered a lot how I complimented girls. Needless to say my experiments proved successful particularly when I considered, location (public or private), my relationship with the individual, the type of compliment, personality (if stranger or acquaintance), environment (lively or laid back), and the timing of my compliment.
What is it like now?
I am not a robot if that is what you are thinking. Of course I love it every time someone says something nice about what I do. Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation go well together, so for me the best compliment you can give has to be about something I have achieved successfully, whether small or great. It obviously cannot be sarcastic because I will see through that. That is the best direct compliment to give me otherwise let me overhear you or hear from others that you have been saying nice things about me., or just keep quiet and not mention a word if you do not have anything nice to say.
Worth Testing It Out
What have you got to lose? After all, your efforts have been in vain, right? Might as well get what you have never had (a positive reaction) by doing what you have never done (give an indirect compliment). See what happens. Another neat thing to do is be partially cryptic about other people’s thoughts towards the person: I heard you’re skilled with social media or my favourite They say you’re skilled with social media. Of course that will stir curiosity to which you can eventually lead them back to you. Some direct compliments that work too are the self-degrading kinds. I hate those because of two reasons 1) I have a high self-esteem and 2) I am an optimist. I would very seldom say:
i) I wish I was as amazing at (the activity) as you are
ii) If I was half as proficient at this as you are
I would much rather say: I love how great you are at editing. It reminds me of how awesome I am with sound.
I have begun growing in receiving positive feedback. I now respond by saying, “Confirm? Glad you noticed.”Essentially giving positive feedback about someone is much more helpful than telling the person directly. Your words will sink deep into their heart and resonate with their soul. It may change the perspective they had of themselves and help them see the other side of the coin. A side they never would otherwise have seen or known of, had it not been for you to turn them to it.
Just talk about them positively to everyone and the news will eventually reach their ears. Convince people to think the same way so that you can avert suspicion of ulterior motives.