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A backhanded compliment.



A backhanded compliment is an insult that is hidden as a compliment. At face value, it doesn’t sound very nice. Truly, because it actually isn’t. It doesn’t matter how deep you hide an insult within a supposed compliment, people are not stupid. They will pick it up. Just as one person can wrap a bunch of blades in a beautifully wrapped and prettily decorated gift box, so can the person on the receiving end unwrap it.  Once someone receives a backhanded compliment, they experience the hidden blades of condescending words just as harshly as they were actually intended to be.

“You write well, considering you aren’t a real writer”.
“Well spoken! Your speech went a lot smoother compared to the last time”
“Your lipstick looks so nice, especially on thin lips”
“You guys are so cute together, a lot better than when we were hooking up”

Being on the receiving end of a backhanded compliment is both mean and awkward. When you receive it, you have to sit there and accept the compliment part of the sentence, all whilst breaking down the insult part of it. And by accepting the compliment, you somehow feel obliged to accept the insult. Also, by accepting the compliment, the person saying the words may feel like they are a level above you because they think you don’t see that what was said was not entirely positive.  Do they feel they have an upper hand/stance against you, because what they said could be interpreted as malicious, but it could also be interpreted as nice? It is all so confusing because they can act innocent behind the compliment part of it, yet the can act confident behind the insult part without being questioned. Their defense is often ‘you took it the wrong way’, ‘you misinterpreted what I was saying’, ‘don’t be so sensitive’, ‘You are being pathetic, I was being nice…”.

No. being on the giving end of a backhanded compliment means you know very well the thought and hidden intent in what you are choosing to say.

Everybody has the capability to throw a backhanded compliment at someone or about something. The difference between the people that choose to give them and the people that don’t lie in security, or a lack thereof.

People will say nasty things to make themselves feel better about where they fall short or lack, or simply don’t have at all. It’s a coping mechanism. It’s a conversation someone essentially has with themselves. This conversation is based on reassuring that what the other person has, isn’t actually that great. Or what the person can do, they actually cannot do that well. Think about this. It is a conversation they have with themselves. Not you. Nothing about that cleverly-covered ‘compliment’ is about you. It is actually a small little reminder to that person, that they are lacking something.

“You write well, considering you aren’t a real writer” – could mean:
     “I don’t write as well as you”
“Well spoken! Your speech went a lot smoother compared to the last time – could mean:
     “I wasn’t asked to present a speech”
“Your lipstick looks so nice, especially on thin lips” – could mean:
     “I have tried that lipstick and it didn’t suit me”
“You guys are so cute together, a lot cuter than when we were hooking up” – could mean:
   “he has chosen to be with you and not me”

The next time someone chooses to give you a backhanded compliment, try and amend your interpretation of it. Absorb the true compliment, but be conscious of the little metaphorical dagger that swiftly follows it, and know that this little dagger is not meant for you. The little dagger is a sharp reminder that someone, or something, is doing even the smallest bit better than them. 

A backhanded compliment.
A backhanded compliment.

JHBeats

JHBeats is a 25 year old girl from Johannesburg, South Africa, who has a passion for chasing endorphin's found in healthy and happy living.

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