What You Should Know about Compliments

Men and women differ in many regards on what concerns their nature, their view over the world, their speaking patterns. We have all noticed that. There are some situations in life when one is faced with this difference and it can become hard to handle.

A practical example of this idea is giving compliments. Regardless if you are a man or a woman, you have surely noticed that in some cases when giving compliments we don’t always get the expected reaction.

The followings will try to shed some light on the matter.

It is known that men differ from women in giving and receiving compliments. Research shows that women give and receive more compliments than men do. In 1994 a researcher analysed 484 compliment exchanges in New Zealand. He came up with the conclusion that 51% (248) of these compliments were given by a woman to another woman and only 9% (44) were given by a man to another man. 23.1% were given by a man to a woman and 16.5 % by a woman to a man. Women in the company of other women are used to giving and receiving compliments, it is an everyday occurrence.

They usually compliment each other on appearance.
Here is an example:
· (in college) “Hi, Joanna, you look nice – your eye make-up is brilliant”.·(in the office) “You’ve got such lovely eyes”.Men, on the other hand, compliment each other on their possessions or their skills. Here is an example:
· (on a bus) “Rasclat, man, your boots are wicked, know what I mean? “·(in a pub) “You’re very quick with witty one-liners –I would imagine you must have a high IQ”.

Cross sex compliments: a man’s compliment can quickly be interpreted as sexual harassment:

·(in office) “You look so sexy today Faye –I must remember to have a cruddle with you.”

When women compliment men, men seem to regard it with uneasiness :

·(in a pub)

Woman: – the thing I really like about you and the thing that makes our relationship into a special kind of friendship … it that you’re always prepared to listen.

Man: -pardon? (sarcastic).

Women are giving and receiving compliments as positive politeness, they attend to the positive face needs of the addressee. There are situations when giving compliments can be face-threatening; they ignore the negative face-needs of the addressee. Cross-sex compliments are clearly more face-threatening than same-sex compliments and giving compliments seem to be more face-threatening to men than to women.

Research shows that people accept the majority of the compliments they receive from someone of the same sex, but reject around 50% of compliments offered by members of the opposite sex.

It is interesting to take these statistics into consideration the next time you are giving and receiving compliments. You may easily understand the reaction the person you complimented has and you can analyse for yourself if it was or wasn’t the desired one.

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