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16 Compliments You Didn’t Realize Are Actually Pretty Insulting

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen of Reader's Digest | Slide 1 of 17: 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.

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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