How to Respond to Backhanded Compliments

They’re usually trying to make a point, jealous, angry, or lack social skills.

Oh, you look different since the last time I saw you.”  Good or bad?   “…your same ol’ recipe.”  Or, “Are you still going to the gym?”

Even though you’ve come to expect from some people, it’s funny how they manage to catch you off guard every time.  And there you stand with no comeback–you’re too polite for that.

Are these backhanded flatterers unaware, or is it a veiled insult?

In my experience, the strangest backhanded compliments I’ve received were the random. Either the conversation had nothing to do with the “compliment” or they were just passing by and obviously compelled to drop the bomb and keep moving. 

How have you handled backhanded compliments?

My take:  Is the person’s remark worth a response?  Usually the answer is, no. However, if you choose to, here are a few options:

  • You can reply, “Well, that was random.” Always include a smile–it is much more effective.  
  • “What do you mean?”
  • “I don’t understand.” 
  • “Thank you for noticing.”
  • “Is that a compliment?”  (a bit direct)
  • “Do you like it?” (That’s putting them on the spot.)
  • You can just ignore them. Especially if they do it all of the time.

Here is a link to The Daily List, to read the, “Top Ten Worst Backhanded Compliments”

Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

having lunch with a CEO, business dining etiquetteRosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.