Home Commentary Clog in the Machine: How to take a compliment

Clog in the Machine: How to take a compliment

by Simona Rosenfield October 6, 2020
Clog in the Machine: How to take a compliment

This is a piece of satire.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell when someone is complimenting you. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Do you ever struggle with identifying whether someone is complimenting you? Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard someone say, “Learn how to take a compliment! Gosh.” Trust me, ladies, you’re not the only one with your hand raised.

It’s hard to know just what to say when you get complimented, or even know when it’s happening. Growing up, I remember feeling like I’m just not tall enough to see a compliment coming without my heels on.

And then, it gets even more confusing — how do I respond? What do I say?

It can be oh-so stressful. Don’t fear, I’m here to help! After 25 years of experience getting compliments, I’m confident that my five-step process will guide you through the encounter from identifying, all the way to taking a compliment.

Step 1: Identify compliment as such

This can be difficult, as some compliments come in the form of screaming, googly-eyed facial expressions, or loud remarks from one chap to another, with the goal of you hearing their sidebar. This is normal. Sometimes you will be addressed from a moving car. In this case, if the car is driving under the speed limit, you will be expected to trot alongside the passenger seat, so as to better hear the compliment.

In this cultural landscape, observation-based remarks on one’s body or person, such as, “hot tits,” “sexy,” or “very nice,” are indeed compliments. Other forms of compliment may arrive as sound effects, such as, “woof woof” or invitations, like, “suck it!” I have appreciated each aforementioned compliment firsthand, and can confirm their status as such.

Step 2: Verify compliment with inquiry

In a case where someone is complimenting you, the last thing you want to do is seem too eager or vain. Make sure the speaker is indeed referring to you. You can do this by looking around to see if they might be addressing someone nearby, or maybe a neat patch of foliage, or the clouds. If no such alternative presents, return your gaze to the speaker, blink very slowly yet aggressively, like your top and bottom eyelash lines are at war, and mouth the word “Me?” while pointing to your face. The speaker will confirm or deny, as appropriate.

Step 3: Investigate compliment

It is important that, in a register only dogs can hear, you make your reply. This is when you can investigate the compliment, and get further information as to what the speaker intends with their remarks. My favourite response runs along the lines of, “While I am flattered, I’m curious why you said that to me.” The last thing you want to do is give the impression you are not flattered. It’s not every day somebody verifies your existence with a glance at your body. These are the terms in which people in our society validate each other — social media likes, Cash App tips, and comments on our bodies. The least we can do is show a little appreciation. Otherwise, it’s tacky.

The speaker will explain themselves, probably with hand gestures and descriptive language. Terms like “supple folds” and “peach blossoms” are common in such communications.

Step 4: Process compliment

You want to return validation, even when compliments sound like constructive criticisms, such as “bitch face” or a timeless classic “you’re ugly.” The very act of receiving commentary is the compliment. You will want to reply with warm thanks. Imagine what you would write in a thank you card after a particularly successful tombola.

To illustrate this, I will include an example. The last time I received a compliment, I replied, “This is a very kind combination of gestures and words that I feel are validating to my human experience. When I am approached in this manner, I like it.”

It is common that after such a pleasing interaction, the speaker will then encourage you. They might say, “That’s right, you little minx. I knew you liked it all along, if you’d just listen.”

Step 5: Take it

Now this is when it gets tricky, so strap on your highest heels so you can see what I’m saying. In order to take the compliment, you will want to walk over to the speaker, reach out your hand with your palms facing up to elicit a disarming stance, and then put your hand in the speaker’s coat pocket. Emerge from this pocket with their wallet, money clip, or any other accoutrement used for carrying money in hand. Remove any paper bills, signed cheques, and activated credit cards from said apparatus, thus taking the compliment. Return the empty wallet to the speaker and be on your way.

And there you go! How to take a compliment in five easy steps!

If you’re looking for more etiquette tips, just fish around in your purse for an antique wooden nail file with morse code carved into it. I snuck it in the front pouch while you were reading this.



Graphic by Lily Cowper

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