Picture this all-too-common scenario: You're meeting a friend for coffee, running late as usual. As you bustle into the coffee shop and give her a hug while simultaneously ordering an almond-milk latte, she says something along the lines of, "Your hair looks so good today!" To which you respond with, "Ugh, no. I need it cut so badly, and the rain is making this frizz out of control." She gives you a half-hearted, "No, stop, it looks gorgeous," which you dismiss with a head shake, then you both head to a table (after giving that aspiring "novelist" the evil eye for taking up two tabletops for his notes and laptop) to catch up and get caffeinated.
Chances are this scenario rings painfully true for pretty much everyone reading this. Compliments are tricky territory to manage, especially for women — whether it's giving or receiving them. Give a man a compliment, on anything from his hair to his drink choice, and the assumption is usually that you're looking to get horizontal with him. Give a woman a compliment, and she's more likely to deflect it, for fear of being thought vain or full of herself.
In a 1988 study
, Janet Holmes
, a sociolinguist and professor at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand, explored women's and men's complimenting behavior. She noted that the women in her study gave and received compliments overwhelmingly more than men. "Women use compliments as a way of establishing good rapport with others — especially other women. Men use compliments to women as a way of breaking the ice and establishing good relationships," she says. It's important to note, however, that while women are better at doling out praise and receive more compliments, that does not necessarily mean we are accepting