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The Sincere Compliment 

It is easy for Westerners to confuse deference with being intimidated, perhaps because intimidation often lies behind deferential behavior in the West. The East Asian understanding of deference is importantly different. The roots of the deference lie in an internalized sense of what is seemly and unseemly, virtuous and disgraceful.
(Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences 800BC-1950, Charles Murray, page 396)

The proper response to any compliment is simply “thank you”. (This works especially well for insincere compliments, as they will assume you took them seriously, and thus be driven to distraction.) If the compliment is really effusive, or from someone you greatly admire, you may be permitted to say “thank you very much”. If God, or a Goddess like Sade Adu compliments you, you may say “Thank you very much, I really appreciate that.”

If you wish to pay a compliment, the rules are as follows:

  • Be sincere
  • Be brief
  • Do not expect, or encourage, reciprocal compliments

With ladies, there are, of course, additional rules:

  • Unless she is your wife or lover, do not comment on body parts. Yes, she may well have an amazing ass, but you can find a better conversation starter.
  • “For a girl, you’re really good at this” will not usually get you too far.

 

Responding to compliments:

The proper response to any compliment is simply “thank you.” (This works especially well for insincere compliments, as they will assume you took them seriously, and thus be driven to distraction.) If the compliment is really effusive, or from someone you greatly admire, you may be permitted to say “thank you very much.” If God, or a Goddess like Sade Adu, compliments you, you may say “Thank you very much, I really appreciate that.”

Not only does a gentleman not brag, he rarely admits to his accomplishments, victories, or general good fortune. Specific examples:

On being seen with a stunningly good looking woman: “Yes, she is lovely, isn’t she? Not quite sure what she sees in me, but I’m thankful for her errors in judgment.”

On your perfect children: “They inherited their mother’s good looks and brains and somewhere they’ve gotten something from me as well. Hopefully it won’t come out.”

On your perfectly restored vintage Ferrari convertible: “Probably a terrible investment, but my dog loves to have the top down.”

On winning an Olympic gold medal in the decathalon: “Thank God swimming isn’t one of the events.”

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