Where Do Men And Women Receive Encouragement? (And How Do You Compliment Someone Without Sounding Creepy?)

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seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
14,197
4,088
113
#1
Hey Everyone,

I have been thinking a lot lately about the fact that most people in this world don't receive very much encouragement. We may have been praised as children (though we all know many didn't even receive that,) but anything positive pretty much disappears as soon as you become an adult -- and then all you hear are things like, "Why did you do that?" and "You need to do better."

After watching an elderly relative survive his wife's death, I am especially concerned about men, because he told me that it's very hard for men to make friends, and for many, their only social interaction and feedback is from the woman they marry.

We are also all aware that even in some marriages, people never hear a kind or encouraging word from their spouses. Life is hard enough as it is, let alone surviving on a steady diet of either being ignored or constantly criticized.

I can only speak from my own perspective, but it seems that many women at least get encouragement from their female friends -- women often compliment each other for their abilities, outfits, the way they look, etc. Still, most women are still in dire need of feedback that uplifts their spirits.

And what about men? Even guy friends don't exactly shower each other with praise. I guess some men might say they don't need it, but I tend to believe that everyone, whether man or woman, needs to hear positive things on a regular basis.

So how can we as Christians do something to remedy this?

I once had a young male team leader who was always getting chewed out by the higher boss: "Why didn't you meet production targets today? You need to get faster. I don't want to hear any excuses."

And yet, this young guy never let that negativity trickle down. At the end of every day, he always told us thank you and that he really appreciated all our hard work (because we were in a situation most are in today, where companies are demanding workloads that just aren't humanly possible.) It really disheartened me to see how he was being treated, and so I tried to regularly tried to compliment him regarding his own hard work, organization, etc., but without sounding overdone or insincere.

It also made me sad that his boss was probably treating him that way because he was being mistreated by the higher ups, and all the toxicity was snowballing down the hill.

Despite all my quirks, at heart, I know one of my callings from God is to try to encourage others. But political correctness and the #MeToo movement seems to have made it almost impossible to give a well-meaning compliment without being taken to court, especially in the work place.

I am certainly not trying to judge or criticize anyone who has been victimized -- I believe all victims deserve God's righteous justice -- but what I mean is, you just don't know how much trouble you might get into these days for giving compliment, even when all you're trying to do is to give someone a positive word.

I don't think it's a secret that most women like being complimented, and I don't think twice about complimenting a woman, even when it comes to looks ("Your hair looks fantastic today!")

But I know that most men are probably petrified at the thought of trying to compliment a woman, fearing they're going to get slapped with some kind of criminal accusation.

Likewise, I am very cautious in the way I compliment men. While I'm just guessing that men secretly don't mind being complimented on their looks as well, I'm always careful to avoid any comments about looks and compliment their character, work ethic, profession of faith, etc. (unless we know each other well) because I don't want it be mistaken for romantic interest or even worse, sexual harassment.

How about all of you?

* Did you receive much praise as a child, and do you receive much now? Do you wish you had more of it in your life?

* What do you feel is a safe way to approach someone in order to give a compliment?

* What things do you do to uplift other people, and what advice can you give for doing so?

* Should opposite genders avoid complimenting each other? What do you feel is the best way for men and women to sincerely praise one another?

Our sinful world is shrouded in criticism and negativity.

I am happy to be part of a community that is trying to change that, one kind word at a time. :)
 

Lanolin

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2018
19,057
6,185
113
#2
I work in primary school and its a given teachers encourage their children but I have seen a few that dont

I havent thought much about grown men and women though, I tend to get mine from books. Or the Holy spirit, who is the comforter, I dont rely on men to compliment me or even women if they just doing it to boost my ego.

The staff try to do it at my school but I feel like I dont really need false praise, I just do my job. Once a year the board does a morning tea for us or gives us gifts at christmas, so, I like that appreciation.

if im learning something its good to have an encouraging teacher who believes in your ability but that is the holy spirit in most cases. At the moment I am doing Bookathon and getting sponsors although thats a thing children are meant to do, many dont feel comfortable asking parents and adults to give them money for reading books for a good cause when times are tough.

so I am doing on their behalf and just reading what they recommend, and the people that ARE encouraging me will donate however small or large their donation is from their hearts when I tell them about what I am doing (its for blind and low visions families who need access to books)
 

2ndTimothyGroup

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2021
5,078
1,768
113
#3
Welcome to 2022, right? We seem to be living in a society that is doing all that it can to become profitable . . . suing people for virtually anything that might create a dollar for personal gain. I have found myself in trouble for giving compliments to the wrong person. Ironically, one person was physically handicapped, thus I went the extra mile to give compliments to counter the likelihood of that person feeling down about themselves. It turned out that my compliments were causing all kinds of issues. I just had no idea that my being kind could create such havoc . . . but in fact, I was causing havoc.

What you have masterfully written about has been a very big problem in my life. My empathy for people has generated so much grief. My Love for others has caused so much pain. Isn't it just unbelievable? In fact, the continual refusal of my Love for others actually caused me to not want to be alive. I couldn't understand how I could be so supportive of family, protected classes, etc, yet be hated so strongly as I have been (in this world of the Devil - and there is our first clue).

I learned that I needed to become just one person. This meant that I needed to learn to speak to an 80-year-old the same way that I speak to a 45-year-old. This meant that I needed to learn to speak to a 5-year-old the same way that I speak to a 45-year-old. I mean, it made sense! If adults are the model to children of what it means to be mature, why would we change our voice and speak to a child as though we were a child ourselves? I had to stop that. I had to stop acting like a child in hopes that I might make them more comfortable with me and perhaps even more accepting (of me). I found that many parents felt it was creepy to "get down to their level" and try to relate to their children. However, when I speak to children as a mature man, there has never been any point of conflict with the parents. The "creep factor" disappears.

Being one person means that we speak to men the same way that we would speak to women. And as a man, this meant that even though I might find a woman to be remarkably attractive, I still needed to speak to her and treat her the exact way that I would speak to and treat a man (of which I am not attracted). So, how could a woman accuse me of hitting on her if I were speaking to her just as I would speak to a man or child? I found that if I am consistent, no one can accuse me of anything other than being just that . . . consistent.

But like you, I also believe in encouraging others . . . and giving out compliments. It is my nature! I want to do it! In fact, I love building others up, for I know that many not only enjoy it, but they NEED it. Having spent perhaps around 18 years of my life wishing that I were dead, I know, for a fact, that many need positive, encouraging words. But there is a massive risk, as you have properly pointed out. I found that I need to weigh each person. Yes, I need to be consistent, but it is also important to consider the body language of each person to help determine if and when I offer compliments. As a 55-year-old man, I found that I must be careful with younger women. This means that I highly limit my compliments, and I certainly don't issue them with a smile, but more with a professional look (and sound). I also don't stare. I limit my eye contact, particularly with those of the opposite sex. I also keep my conversations with people shorter than I used to. I don't linger. Also, try to limit my sense of humor to small bits and pieces and then walk away. I try to be the first to walk away, for it seems that it is better to cause others to wish that you'd talk to them more versus causing them to feel like you're talking to them too much.

Anyway, it apparently required decades of failure to get these things figured out, and my new approach seems to be working. Learning to just shut my mouth has also be key and critical. And honestly, I should do that even more.
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
14,197
4,088
113
#4
Welcome to 2022, right? We seem to be living in a society that is doing all that it can to become profitable . . . suing people for virtually anything that might create a dollar for personal gain. I have found myself in trouble for giving compliments to the wrong person. Ironically, one person was physically handicapped, thus I went the extra mile to give compliments to counter the likelihood of that person feeling down about themselves. It turned out that my compliments were causing all kinds of issues. I just had no idea that my being kind could create such havoc . . . but in fact, I was causing havoc.

What you have masterfully written about has been a very big problem in my life. My empathy for people has generated so much grief. My Love for others has caused so much pain. Isn't it just unbelievable? In fact, the continual refusal of my Love for others actually caused me to not want to be alive. I couldn't understand how I could be so supportive of family, protected classes, etc, yet be hated so strongly as I have been (in this world of the Devil - and there is our first clue).

I learned that I needed to become just one person. This meant that I needed to learn to speak to an 80-year-old the same way that I speak to a 45-year-old. This meant that I needed to learn to speak to a 5-year-old the same way that I speak to a 45-year-old. I mean, it made sense! If adults are the model to children of what it means to be mature, why would we change our voice and speak to a child as though we were a child ourselves? I had to stop that. I had to stop acting like a child in hopes that I might make them more comfortable with me and perhaps even more accepting (of me). I found that many parents felt it was creepy to "get down to their level" and try to relate to their children. However, when I speak to children as a mature man, there has never been any point of conflict with the parents. The "creep factor" disappears.

Being one person means that we speak to men the same way that we would speak to women. And as a man, this meant that even though I might find a woman to be remarkably attractive, I still needed to speak to her and treat her the exact way that I would speak to and treat a man (of which I am not attracted). So, how could a woman accuse me of hitting on her if I were speaking to her just as I would speak to a man or child? I found that if I am consistent, no one can accuse me of anything other than being just that . . . consistent.

But like you, I also believe in encouraging others . . . and giving out compliments. It is my nature! I want to do it! In fact, I love building others up, for I know that many not only enjoy it, but they NEED it. Having spent perhaps around 18 years of my life wishing that I were dead, I know, for a fact, that many need positive, encouraging words. But there is a massive risk, as you have properly pointed out. I found that I need to weigh each person. Yes, I need to be consistent, but it is also important to consider the body language of each person to help determine if and when I offer compliments. As a 55-year-old man, I found that I must be careful with younger women. This means that I highly limit my compliments, and I certainly don't issue them with a smile, but more with a professional look (and sound). I also don't stare. I limit my eye contact, particularly with those of the opposite sex. I also keep my conversations with people shorter than I used to. I don't linger. Also, try to limit my sense of humor to small bits and pieces and then walk away. I try to be the first to walk away, for it seems that it is better to cause others to wish that you'd talk to them more versus causing them to feel like you're talking to them too much.

Anyway, it apparently required decades of failure to get these things figured out, and my new approach seems to be working. Learning to just shut my mouth has also be key and critical. And honestly, I should do that even more.
Thank you for such a highly detailed, specific, and useful answer.

I am very sorry that you have received so much flak for simply trying to carry out the nature that God gave you.

What you've written in this post is a very important and useful set of instructions for those of us who were given encouraging spirits.

I found your advice of keeping things CONSISTENT to be extremely informative and helpful. It also made me very sorrowful to hear even further details about how our society seems intent on seeing all men as being predators. For instance, like you, I usually talk to kids the same as I would adults, but every now and then, I've tried to "talk to them on their level" as well.

I was just thinking how, as woman who is often seen as younger than I really am and a bit of an overgrown kid (because I wear t-shirts with cartoon characters on them,) I can "get away with it," whereas a man who tried to do the same (and also dressed in a cartoon t-shirt) would most likely have the police called on him.

The extreme gender imbalance makes me sad, but I'm also not sure what the resolution would be. I have to honestly admit that if I were a mother, I'm sure I would buy into some of the stereotypes, even when they were misapplied.

I can't stress enough how sorry I am for the prejudices you have faced, all for trying to be kind.

I know this might not be much of a consolation, but what I find most inspiring is that you didn't give up, kept on trying, and have found a method with proven value that you can then pass on to others.

God bless you for always wanting to nurture the good in other people, even when it wasn't shown to you.
 

Subhumanoidal

Well-known member
Sep 17, 2018
3,200
2,566
113
#5
I am the kind of person that has trouble giving compliments to anyone other than a gf. And that often takes some time to start up. Even to my own family.
And likewise I have trouble accepting them.
I don't recall how much I was or was not complimented as a child, though knowing my parents I did receive some compliments.
As a teen I was often complimented on certsin topics, but not often encouraged personally. But the church folk around me definitely set me up to expect my life to be a lot more than it turned out to be.
And even by the time I turned 18 most of what positives I did hear from church people dried up.


In regards to men and women, I always felt awkward complimenting a woman I wasn't dating as I feared it being seen as expressing a romantic interest. Still do.
And men simply don't often compliment one another.
And I think as a child an incident caused me to be a bit concerned at the idea of complimenting another man.


I don't believe opposite genders should not compliment one another, but rather be more aware of what they say, to who, how they say it, etc...
Some people take any compliment from the opposite sex as a sign of interest. So with such people caution and consideration is important in what is said and how.
Some people are so friendly and outgoing that compliments are almost second nature to such people, and giving them a compliment is rarely taken as meaning more. Same with receiving from them.
So it's not really a flat yes or no answer (as with all things involving people).


In regards to men and compliments, I do think it is more appreciated than let on, by many men. Including with looks. But it often seems the only time a woman compliments a man's looks is when she's interested in them, and that's usually an attractive man to begin with, hence the attraction.
I'm not one that's ever received many compliments on my looks. And I'm ok with that. I'm know I'm not traditionally handsome, nor does how I dress help matters 😂😂
But I do like to think my gf thinks I'm at least somewhat attractive 🥸
(She tells me she does from time to time, so I'm content with that).

So while I'm not great at complimenting others, I do my best to take all that that's not expressed to others and use it all for my gf and try to compliment her as often as possible.

If I ever do feel to give a compliment I try to connect it to something being discussed, and not just out of nowhere. And I'll usually do a compliment/encouragement combo so as to not be misconstrued (by women) as just a random compliment.

I think men approaching strange women and starting with compliments, or using them early on is creepy. In a setting where it's expected is one thing (a singles bar for example), but otherwise there really is no way to do that and not look creepy. Likely because that's how actual creepy guys operate.
 

2ndTimothyGroup

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2021
5,078
1,768
113
#6
Thank you for such a highly detailed, specific, and useful answer.

I am very sorry that you have received so much flak for simply trying to carry out the nature that God gave you.

What you've written in this post is a very important and useful set of instructions for those of us who were given encouraging spirits.

I found your advice of keeping things CONSISTENT to be extremely informative and helpful. It also made me very sorrowful to hear even further details about how our society seems intent on seeing all men as being predators. For instance, like you, I usually talk to kids the same as I would adults, but every now and then, I've tried to "talk to them on their level" as well.

I was just thinking how, as woman who is often seen as younger than I really am and a bit of an overgrown kid (because I wear t-shirts with cartoon characters on them,) I can "get away with it," whereas a man who tried to do the same (and also dressed in a cartoon t-shirt) would most likely have the police called on him.

The extreme gender imbalance makes me sad, but I'm also not sure what the resolution would be. I have to honestly admit that if I were a mother, I'm sure I would buy into some of the stereotypes, even when they were misapplied.

I can't stress enough how sorry I am for the prejudices you have faced, all for trying to be kind.

I know this might not be much of a consolation, but what I find most inspiring is that you didn't give up, kept on trying, and have found a method with proven value that you can then pass on to others.

God bless you for always wanting to nurture the good in other people, even when it wasn't shown to you.
Thank you for your surprising reply. I really do appreciate it. I would like to add that one of the things that may have literally saved my life, was learning to care less. I know that it might sound odd to some, but my Love for others caused a lot of misery (when that love wasn't reciprocated). Literally, I had to learn to feel indifferent about many people, especially my family. I was so drastically different from anyone else in my family, for I loved them beyond imagination. In fact, I love my brothers so much that if they had died (in one of their world-class mountain climbs), I acknowledged that I wouldn't know what to do other than to take my own life. My love was so incredible that I couldn't imagine possessing that love without them being here.

After decades of their rejection, and with my continuous but former desire to not live because of those rejections, I realized that I needed to care less about them if I were to live. Incredibly, the Lord allowed me to do just that, and so I live with indifference toward them . . . and nearly all people from my past. I realized that no one was required to like or approve of me, and once I learned such things, my expectations became more balanced. And yes, this newfound form of thinking is directly related to what your thread is addressing. I had to learn to become more consistent . . . more balanced as a person.

Thank you for the opportunity to share; I really appreciate it. :)
 
S

Seeking-Christ

Guest
#7
In my own life, I'm a janitor for a school. One teacher used to always tell me thank you, and sometimes left me cupcakes. One time she even winked at me. I couldn't process what was going on. Now things seems to have all fallen apart. But I think one of the reasons why it all fell apart is because I didn't have a clue how to navigate the waters i was in. I'm scared to death of getting into trouble, so I don't reach out to any teacher that doesn't show some friendliness to me first. You see when I first started, I tried to make small talk. But then I found out something I said, she didn't like, and learned what happens to male janitors when He happens to say something that the other person took in the wrong way. You get called into the office, and told not talk to anyone. Just say Hi and that is it. I felt squashed. Ever since then, I watch my Ps and Qs.
 

Live4Him3

Jesus is Lord
May 19, 2022
1,383
622
113
#8
We are also all aware that even in some marriages, people never hear a kind or encouraging word from their spouses. Life is hard enough as it is, let alone surviving on a steady diet of either being ignored or constantly criticized.
My ex once told me that she was tempted to write "666" on my forehead while I was sleeping. True story. You can only imagine what types of things she thought to do to me while I was actually awake.

Anyhow, as a man, and, specifically, as a Christian man, I've learned that it's basically impossible for me to compliment a woman. In fact, if I so much as have the audacity to talk to some "Christian" women, even if it's solely about Christ, then I'm immediately treated as if I'm hitting on them, and they shun me completely. It's happened to me right here on this website in the past.

:(

Truth be told, this is my only form of encouragement (well, except for one forum member here who tries her best to encourage me):

"And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God." (I Samuel 30:6)

Why does that part about the people speaking of stoning him sound so familiar?

:unsure:

it is what it is.
 
S

Seeking-Christ

Guest
#9
Anyhow, as a man, and, specifically, as a Christian man, I've learned that it's basically impossible for me to compliment a woman. In fact, if I so much as have the audacity to talk to some "Christian" women, even if it's solely about Christ, then I'm immediately treated as if I'm hitting on them, and they shun me completely. It's happened to me right here on this website in the past.
I was in a weird situation on another forum. I complimented a picture of a woman in the same way I had always done in the past. A moderator left a mean private message, telling me that I should of asked her permission first. Then He pointed out some other details that I didn't think should of been an issue considering what the thread was about. But it seems that the older I get the more creepy people think I am.
 
S

Seeking-Christ

Guest
#10
In fact on that same forum, there were threads starting to pop up, written by young women calling older men creepy. So the older you get as a man, the less you can talk to women without being taken the wrong way.
 

Live4Him3

Jesus is Lord
May 19, 2022
1,383
622
113
#11
I was in a weird situation on another forum. I complimented a picture of a woman in the same way I had always done in the past. A moderator left a mean private message, telling me that I should of asked her permission first. Then He pointed out some other details that I didn't think should of been an issue considering what the thread was about. But it seems that the older I get the more creepy people think I am.
It's one thing when people think you're "creepy' online because they don't really know you. To a fairly large degree, people need to be cautious online because there are a lot of predators.

My beef, although it doesn't really bother me anymore in that I've simply accepted it by now, is when people who I interact with on a regular basis see me as a "creep".

Whatever.

Like I told a forum member here in a private conversation just a couple of days ago, I'm pretty much just looking forward to death at this point in time. I mean, I'll seek to serve God until my dying breath, but I've completely given up on the hope of ever having any genuine relationship with anyone here during the remainder of my lifetime.
 

Live4Him3

Jesus is Lord
May 19, 2022
1,383
622
113
#12
In fact on that same forum, there were threads starting to pop up, written by young women calling older men creepy. So the older you get as a man, the less you can talk to women without being taken the wrong way.
And do you know what the saddest part about that is?

In my case, and I suspect in your case as well, I'm actually everything INWARDLY (I'm average-looking, outwardly) that a woman supposedly wants.

You know, faithful, caring, respectful, honest, open, thoughtful, etc., etc., etc.

Like I said, whatever.
 

Live4Him3

Jesus is Lord
May 19, 2022
1,383
622
113
#13
@seoulsearch

For whatever it's worth, and in line with this thread's title, I do enjoy your threads.

Lately, you've really been on a roll.

Good night.
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
21,648
6,565
113
#14
creepy.png

"And I even got out my cute netbook to give him something to talk about."
 

seoulsearch

OutWrite Trouble
May 23, 2009
14,197
4,088
113
#15
@seoulsearch

For whatever it's worth, and in line with this thread's title, I do enjoy your threads.

Lately, you've really been on a roll.

Good night.
Thanks.

These days I'm a bit slower... I used to crank 'em out at a much faster rate, especially when I was stressed, because my thoughts were always racing.

These days I try to take more time in between, or maybe I'm just getting old. 😬

Even I have to admit, the old noggin feels like mush, but the discussion has been well worth the mental migraine.

Hope you get some good rest L4H.

We'll see you again soon.
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
21,648
6,565
113
#16
But yeah, the only safe thing to compliment people on these days is how well they do their jobs. Anything else is just asking for a sneer at best, and gossip about how creepy you are at worst... Or at least you HOPE that's the worst.
 
S

Seeking-Christ

Guest
#17
I was in a weird situation on another forum. I complimented a picture of a woman in the same way I had always done in the past. A moderator left a mean private message, telling me that I should of asked her permission first. Then He pointed out some other details that I didn't think should of been an issue considering what the thread was about. But it seems that the older I get the more creepy people think I am.
Back when I joined that forum, it felt liberating, because they pretty much allowed me to be me. But the owner of the site committed suicide. Someone else took it over. Then gradually the moderators got replaced. In the very last year I was there, I noticed that people were gradually leaving or getting banned. After receiving that message from the moderator, I decided it was time for me to go. They didn't allow me to delete my profile, so I took as much down as possible. Then I created an email address, changed that over that one, then I changed the password to something i couldn't remember. After that I canceled/deleted that email address. Then on Linux, I added the website to my hosts file blocking script with all the bad websites I have it blocking.
 

cinder

Senior Member
Mar 26, 2014
4,244
2,267
113
#18
For the most part I think if you stay away from general looks and innuendoish comments you won't come off as too creepy. Complimenting people's work, character, or even a specific clothing choice while awkward wouldn't come across as too creepy to me.

And keep it short and sweet, some of the most awkward compliments I've ever gotten are from a guy friend (fortunately a guy I know well enough that I just kind of laugh and tell him he's pretty bad at compliments but I appreciate the effort) who has to preface his compliment with explanations and disclaimers. I could see him coming across as creepy if he tried that on someone who didn't know him.
 

G00WZ

Senior Member
May 16, 2014
1,242
421
83
36
#19
As a rule i never compliment women on looks unless were already an item. I feel like they don't need to hear it for one and two doing it makes me feel cheap, corny and like a simp plus it sets me up for getting rejected or accused of womanizing. I will compliment or encourage other things though because i feel like in a way i am about or only focused on what i compliment and i don't want to emphasize the wrong things. I choose to be not one dimensional with my attention to be only on looks so i don't come across as shallow.
 

Lynx

Folksy yet erudite
Aug 13, 2014
21,648
6,565
113
#20
For the most part I think if you stay away from general looks and innuendoish comments you won't come off as too creepy. Complimenting people's work, character, or even a specific clothing choice while awkward wouldn't come across as too creepy to me.

And keep it short and sweet, some of the most awkward compliments I've ever gotten are from a guy friend (fortunately a guy I know well enough that I just kind of laugh and tell him he's pretty bad at compliments but I appreciate the effort) who has to preface his compliment with explanations and disclaimers. I could see him coming across as creepy if he tried that on someone who didn't know him.
Your friend must be a nerd. I have the same problem. I want to make what I am saying perfectly clear, but then I realize I have added too many descriptive qualifiers and need to trim it a bit.

This is also why you might have to wait a bit for a reply to your question. It's not that we don't want to answer, it's that we want to make the answer both precise and concise.