The Big Think

December 30, 2013

You Don’t Say

Filed under: Disclosure,Friends — jasony @ 9:47 am

“I want to graciously give, accept, and even believe compliments, but our hyperbolic language has rendered the entire industry of verbal admiration meaningless. In fact, I see and hear adjectives used so far past their definitions that the excess can have the effect of making me think the exact opposite of what the speaker or writer likely intended. This happens often in status updates and tweets where bloggers recommend each other’s posts. When I see “stunning,” “breathtaking,” or “extraordinary,” I can’t help but raise an eyebrow in doubt. I’m more likely to click on a link with a toned-down description like “thought provoking,” “solid read,” or “well said.” This culture of exaggeration has made me a cynic. I’ve become suspicious of words.”

How to Give a Compliment

I have a small slip of paper I carry around that says “If your criticism isn’t true, your praise means nothing”. I try very hard to avoid all these “AMAZING!” over-statements (not always successfully). Simple, heartfelt, and _thoughtful_ expressions seem to be the ones that make the most impact. In fact, I have a VERY thoughtful Christmas card on my desk from a former Sing Chair that just about made my year. No exclamation points, not a single use of the word “amazing”. Just a quiet declaration of appreciation and friendship. Not many things can occupy the Inner Sanctum of my precious desk space, but this one will be there for quite a while (thanks, S, by the way).

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