On Crafting Compliments: Three Simple Facts

With the following realisations, I fancy that I have mastered the art of complimentation.

Fact #1: There is an inverse relationship between how good a compliment is and how statistically likely it is to be true.

E.g. “You are the most beautiful person in the world” is a very good compliment, but also very unlikely to be true whilst “You are more beautiful than Abraham Lincoln but less beautiful than Angelina Jolie” is extremely likely to be true, but…..see Fact #2.

Fact #2: Compliments and insults exist on the same spectrum – a very poor compliment is, in fact, an insult (though the reverse is, strangely enough, not true).

E.g. see example above.

Fact #3: The “I think” qualifier, used by conscientious complimenters to ensure the veracity of their statements, can only be used at the beginning of the compliment, otherwise it becomes an insult.

E.g. “I think your quirky sense of humour is charming” vs. “Your quirky sense of humour is charming, I think.”


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