Backhanded compliments can be just about the worst thing ever. Especially if they are finely crafted to begin with. The ones that are so well created by the people who are very manipulative can take on a sort of evolutionary phase. Meaning that at first listen it merely sounds like the compliment that is hidden inside. Then when you think about it again later, the more it begins to sound like the hidden insult it was meant to be. And if you’re anything like me, that insult laden compliment is going to weigh on your mind for years to come. It’s not a fun feeling.
How does one reply to a backhanded compliment?
I still have yet to figure that out.
Are you supposed to say thank you to the root of it all, the compliment that lay sandwiched inside? Or are you supposed to rebel against the underlying meaning of the phrase? I believe the saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ best applies to the course of action that one should take, simply because there is no need to just accept the vexatious words found within.
I’ve received plenty of backhanded compliments in my day. Ranging from the comments about my physical appearance:
“You’d be a really beautiful if you didn’t have that acne.”
“I love your hair! You’ve got the grunge-just-out-of-bed sort of feel.”
To the comments about my health tendencies:
“I’d say you were a health nut if I didn’t just see you eating those cupcakes.”
“You’re so thin. Is it because you don’t eat?”
Of course at the time the comments didn’t get on my nerves, not as much as they do now. Who are these people to judge me? Half of the time these comments are paid to me by complete strangers. I have never said anything of the sort to a someone I didn’t know, I can’t even say if I’ve ever said anything like that to someone I did know.
It’s an interesting reality that we have going for us. One where it is okay to tell someone you don’t even know what is wrong with them appearance wise.
When will we finally peel the scurrility from the compliment and just tell people something nice?
The next time someone hands you a backhanded compliment, you’d do well to just hand it right back.