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16 Compliments You Didn’t Realize Are Actually Pretty Insulting

You may have the best of intentions, but you need to check yourself before uttering any of these sentences

By | Charlotte Hilton Andersen |

Backhanded compliments

The vast majority of the time, giving a compliment is harmless and, indeed, boosts the recipient’s mood. But certain compliments can have implications that are…far from complimentary. For instance, if you react with surprise at someone’s “good” quality or behavior, make them feel uncomfortable, or even perpetuate a racial or gender stereotype, then that “compliment” is now insulting. These are the things you should think twice before you say—no matter how good your intentions. Plus, learn the questions polite people never ask.

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“Hey, you’re on time!”

When you congratulate chronically late friends on making it on time you may think you’re rewarding good behavior but your “compliment” will likely have the opposite effect. “You’re just pointing out that lateness is their norm and calling attention to that,” says Laura MacLeod, a licensed social worker and founder of From The Inside Out Project. “This also can come across as condescending.” Think twice before starting a sentence with any of these 10 phrases.

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