Not everyone is forthright when it comes to giving compliments.
Some people dole them out with the intention of making the other person feel good even if they don't mean it.
Thumper once said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."
When it comes to applying this principle, people are complicated.
I remember I was in rehearsals for a new musical I was developing. When you spend weeks – even months – in a room creating art with other artists, the work becomes very personal to a fault.
You become protective and your bias prevents you from seeing potential flaws that can easily be addressed to make the end result better.
So when a good friend came to see the dress rehearsal and I asked his opinion of the show afterward, he said with a deadpan expression, "the costumes are stunning." When I pressed further, he said, "I love your voice."
He never answered my question about what he thought of the actual production.
Most performers would understand that to mean he thought the show was terrible but accentuated the positive to avoid hurting my feelings.
So basically, the compliment really wasn't a compliment.Whatever the reason, many people are evasive when it comes to disclosing how they really feel.
Redditor d0ct0rwh0b0y wondered:
You Have No Talent
"When my art teacher said great effort"
"There was a girl with mild CP in my art class in high school, and the teacher stood behind as she drew for a while and said, "Wow, your self portrait may actually turn out to be all right."
"There was a very awkward tension in the room after that..."
You're No Longer Cute
"You were so pretty as a child."
"Oof. This hit home. My mom has this 'joke' that she thinks is hilarious. Whenever we happen to see an old photo of me when I was a kid, she (without fail) will say, 'You used to be so cute... What happened?' Every time. Literally cracks herself up with it too. If I show I don't think it's funny, she'll do the arm slap thing: 'oh come on, you know I'm just joking. What happened to your sense of humor?'"
"There are lots of thin and pretty girls who wish they were as funny as you."
I Accept You
"No matter what people say about you, I think you're okay..."
"My father always uses to say to his students, 'You know, Jimmy, it's not true what they write about you on the bathroom stalls.'"
You Lack Fashion Sense
"I love how you'll just wear anything"
"I had a friend in middle/highschool who wore anything. She loved going to goodwills and buying up weird extravagant outfits. Some looked like they were for older women in the 80's. She had one jacket that looked just like the one Grandma Yetta from The Nanny wore all the time. But the thing was, while she wore anything, she looked amazing in all of it! And her look was so out there that no one dared copy her style because it would have been too obvious."
On Second Thought...
"Anything compliment with the word 'actually' in it."
"You're actually quite pretty"
"You're actually smart!"
My Original Work Was Better
"I heard when the seventh episode of Star Wars came out, George Lucas gave a fairly backhanded compliment to the movie: 'The public will love it.'"
"I've had 'You're pretty good looking/handsome, for a dwarf' so many times. One person even added 'Most of you guys are pretty weird looking' as a nice little cherry on top. Thanks..."
"A guy gave it as a feedback to one of the professors."
"If I had only one hour left to live, I'd always choose to attend your class, as it always feels like an eternity."
"'You're so independent, It's no wonder you are still single.' — Tbh, it's not like I have a choice."