Friday, January 22, 2016

On Expressing Compliments

A lady considers that it is possible to be thoughtless
when expressing a compliment.

Because a lady strives to be considerate of everyone around her, she does not compliment an individual on matters of dress or appearance in the presence of others, but waits for an opportunity to express her admiration privately.  She is aware that by complimenting one in a group setting, she may leave the others with the subtle (but distinct) impression that her compliment does not apply to them.

For example, if in front of Ann, Mary admires Grace's dress, then Ann may be left to conclude that hers did not merit a compliment.  For this reason, Mary, if she is a lady of courtesy, will wait to compliment Grace privately.

Principle:  On matters of dress or appearance, a lady does not compliment one individual in a group.

Art: Painting by Edmund Tarbell, 1880

10 comments:

  1. I honestly had never even thought of this. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention!

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    1. Neither had I, Laura Jeanne! And when I read the simple rule in an etiquette book, without any given explanation, it gave me pause in thinking through the why of it. I hate to think of how many times I may have been guilty of this.

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  2. Thank you for the gentle reminder!
    Kindly,
    Mrs. B

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  3. This is something I hadn't thought of, but I can see how it would be more lady-like (not to mention genuine and meaningful) to compliment in private.

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  4. You're right, Jill, this rule doesn't seem as intuitive as many!

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  5. Thank you again Nancy for sharing your insights. I think this post ties in nicely with your previous one, To Put Others at Ease. Yes I believe we should be careful not to compliment someone, in a group setting, at the expense of others present - who may then feel they aren't worthy of a similar positive comment. Thanks for the encouragement to be aware of everyone's feelings.

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    1. You're very welcome, Linda. I always appreciate your interest and kind words.

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  6. Thank you for the helpful post. Would you mind sharing the name of the etiquette book?

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    1. I'd be happy to, Lisanne ... The book is How to Be a Lady Revised & Updated: A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy by Candace Simpson-Giles.

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