I realize that the opposite of a compliment is an insult. But sometimes there is something in between; the ‘compliment’ just isn’t very, well, complimentary. Some people call them left-handed compliments…but since they aren’t really very clever, that is an insult to left-handed people everywhere.
I’m not talking about mis-speaking, when the words coming out of your mouth don’t match the compliment your brain wanted to say. (When people do that you can see they are mortified!) And I’m not talking about very direct insults – words that are clearly meant to be mean. Non-compliments are passive-agressive comments….you casually act like you are saying something nice, when you are really just being catty.
“Oh, you used a new pattern this time, didn’t you?” is not the same as saying, “Nice jacket.”
“Wow, you’re wearing makeup today!” is the non-compliment version of “You look especially nice today!”
“I like that so much better than the one you had on yesterday!” is a non-compliment, too.
“I would never have thought of wearing those two (or in my case, three or four) colors together!”
“You like the way you wear your hair, don’t you?” I could go on and on.
My grandma, and I imagine most grandmas, used to say, “If you can’t say any anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
The non-compliment version would be, “If you aren’t sure you have something nice to say – (implying you are just not that smart) – keep your thoughts to yourself.” The kicker is, I would never say that to someone – because it isn’t nice!”