Have you been in a situation where you received what might come out as a compliment but doesn’t really sound like one? Or, have you once passed a compliment and then thought ‘Ouch’ I shouldn’t have said that? Well, let’s talk a bit about backhanded compliments or in other words, sugar-coated insults given out so smoothly that you might not even notice the underlying implications.
People who pass backhanded compliments can be insecure, passive-aggressive, and maybe intimidated or jealous. But also sometimes that person might be unaware that what they’ve said can be hurtful and inconsiderate. So, in case you’ve been, or not, in such a situation, here are some snarky compliments and what are the real messages they are carrying.
“I like your outfit, it makes you look thinner.” While there is a compliment on the outfit there is an implication that you are actually fatter and that this outfit is just concealing it.
“You are brave getting back to work that soon. I’d be worried about letting another person look after my kid.” You are not a good parent and you prioritize your career over your family.
“Congratulations on that job. I can’t believe you got it.” Straight-up underestimation of you and your skills.
“You sound nice and fun on social media.” In real life you are not as fun.
“Your house is lovely. It’s cozy and basic.” They are actually telling you that you don’t care about putting an effort to make your house look nice.
“You are nice and good-looking. How come you’re still single?” Something must be wrong with you.
“You clean up really well.” Naturally, and without the effort you’ve done, you look awful.
Now, how to respond if someone throws one of these?
You have 3 options here:
1. You ignore it which is not a nice idea if you want to draw the line, or maybe ignore it because you totally want to dismiss their opinion simply because you don't care.
2. Pinpoint the insult and address it by saying that is hurtful and unacceptable.
3. Respond back in the same manner with a sarcastic sense of humor. For instance, if someone tells you “I’m glad you managed to finish this project. I thought it would be hard for you.” You can simply say “It wasn’t at all hard for me, maybe it is for you.”