Strong and Silent

In the past, I was an over-complimenter.

This stilted way of opening conversations with women started, I think, after I read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a book everyone should read. Just don’t take the part about offering positive comments too far.

Sidebar: Carnegie suggests using people’s names when talking to them, because we like the sound of our own name. Good morning, Hermione; Wassup, Hortense; again, the key is less is more. End Sidebar.

When offering unsolicited compliments to women, this advice oftentimes works against you, and here’s why: women have a sixth sense for the phony. If you say:

“Gosh, your hair looks great,” they’ll counter with “Oh, you think so? Why?” For which we have no answer.

Or we’ll smile and say “I loved that Tweet from yesterday” and the comeback will be “Really: I decided I didn’t like it. What’s wrong with you?”

None of which is a criticism of women. What men need to understand is that our depth of thought about almost everything will be unimaginably more shallow than a woman’s, especially when talking about themselves. Women think so long and so hard about so much, we cannot hope to match them. So a compliment isn’t a compliment unless you have pre-thought back-up logic with supporting arguments.

Which explains why the strong silent types do so well. Non-verbal men rarely find themselves in the position of justifying their statements. Women then are not in a position to crack open the superficiality of their thinking. Ergo, women like those men who look acceptable and don’t talk themselves out of it.


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