Metatalktail Hour: Very Complimentary! September 22, 2018 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, Atrahasis wants to know, "What is your favorite compliment that you have received, given, or even heard about another person? Thank you!"

Remember, these are conversation starters, not limiters, so talk about everything that's up with you! And if you have ideas for topics, send them to me via the contact form or memail or e-mail!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:37 PM (113 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I did hear Mary Berry say to a proud local, at a village show a while back, that "I could never bake a cake as perfect as the one you have made here". Which you could see meant the world to the local with the cake.

Oh and a duchess and owner of a castle told me a few years ago that the tea I made was the best she had tasted since the Silver Jubilee (1977), and I will take that.

+ + + + +

Speaking of cake, this weekend is a rest one for me from village shows and their culinary delights. I'm taking the opportunity to finish off a few more summer projects, and work out my schedule of mainly harvest festivals for October and the beginning of November. The Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell also tempts, as does the Conker Championship in Long Clawson. But, we'll see.

Last Sunday was a show two villages northeast of here, one of the highlights of my annual calendar for these parts. It's only a small village, not much over 300 residents, and the hall is not big. But it was packed with stands and tables (a little too cramped) for eating cake and drinking tea at, and various things for sale such as books and toys. This summer, the show spilled out onto the lawn outside, where potato judging took place with some ferocity and snark between the mainly male competitors.

But I was there mainly for the cakes, and cakes there were. Most of which could be sampled afterwards for a reasonable price. The fudge raspberry cake, the overall winner, was seriously good. I tried a small piece of the coffee and walnut cake as well as that's usually my favourite, and it did not disappoint. There were other great looking cakes as well, such as the standard Victoria Sponge, a chocolate cake, another chocolate cake, an attractive pink cake, a raspberry topped fruit loaf, and more. A lot more.

And there were other categories in the show, such as jams, biscuits, various vegetables, and of course the "Oo-err" vegetable competition. This year it was won by two pumpkins; as you can see, the entrant described it as "Full bosomed! We come as a pair." As I examined them while working on some cake, the lady I presume was the owner - of formidable matron qualities and with a voice many decibels louder than mine - came over. "WHAT DO YOU THINK?" she asked me. "They're very good" I somewhat cautiously replied. "YES. THEY ARE MAGNIFICENT AND THEY ARE REAL." After delivering her Seinfeldesque observation, she paused. "THE PUMPKINS ARE SPLENDID TOO."

I kept my eyes firmly focused on the vegetables until she went away and I could hear her booming "THOSE POTATOES ARE INADEQUATE" on the lawn outside, finished my cake, and fled.
posted by Wordshore at 5:57 PM on September 22, 2018 [54 favorites]

Two compliments I’ve received on the job many years ago and have never forgotten—

*When I was working retail on a very busy weekend, a customer said to me “You made me feel like I was the only one in the store.”
*When I was teaching, a fellow teacher told me “You’re the kind of teacher I’d want for my own child.”
posted by bookmammal at 6:07 PM on September 22, 2018 [15 favorites]

I am terrible at receiving compliments and worse at remembering them. But I did just help free a honeymooning couple trapped in their holiday flat.

I live in a terraced house (row house) with a lower roof over the kitchen out back. I heard some thumping on next door's roof and got up to investigate, expecting a stray cat or urban fox (it was 1.30AM here.) I found a young guy who'd climbed out the window of his flat and was about to try and jump down onto the balcony below. He and his wife had unlocked the door of their flat when it had slammed shut with the key still in it, and the door mechanism had jammed, trapping them inside.

They gave me the code for the front door, and I went in and found their door with the key sticking out and opened it. They'd been trapped all evening and were freaking out a bit, but were happy to be free and gave me some Canadian maple syrup (they were from Vancouver).

(I did go over there with some caution; my brain was telling me this is 100% how murders happen. But it turns out they were sincere. I hope the rest of their time in London goes better than tonight.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2018 [22 favorites]

From a former state trooper, observing me grabbing the Oh Shit handle to hoist myself up into the passenger seat: "I admire a woman who knows the proper way to enter a truck."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:13 PM on September 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

A coworker told me I have good taste in Kleenex boxes.
posted by scratch at 6:26 PM on September 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

When I went on the road in my RV, my first job was at a KOA in the hills near Pittsburgh. I worked in the souvenir shop cum rental office cum reception cum grocery store. My coworker was a local woman who'd been coming and working there for many years, and worked in Kmart in the winter, so blue-collar. She had a great sense of humor and we got along very well. Eventually, she said to me: "You know, you may be a coffee snob and a wine snob, but you're not a people snob. And I really thought you would be." I've cherished that compliment ever since. Sadly, she left this plane a couple of years ago and I really miss her.
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:28 PM on September 22, 2018 [30 favorites]

After I did something kind for a third party, one of my friends said to me in awe and admiration, “You’re just so good,” and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more appreciated.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:29 PM on September 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

A guy I work with told me I’m "regal but not in a snooty way, like a friendly Queen of Spades."
A few weeks ago at church I got an award for doing a lot of volunteer stuff and the guy presenting said, "And when you talk to her, she really listens."
My college roommate said that because I tend to be reserved, when I first start joking with people, it's like the Sphinx cracking a joke. Which is an image I've always liked.

I'm in the midst of neuroses about a potential job opportunity that would basically be a promotion and a half, and there are all sorts of potential issues with pretty much any choice I make, but I'm trying to remind myself that I'm being encouraged to pursue it because multiple people several levels higher than me in the organization were really impressed by the work I did in the past few years. Which is a nice compliment, because I had previously thought that the only one who really noticed my good work was my direct manager, who just retired, and I thought I was going to fall through the cracks a bit with her departure. I guess not.
posted by lazuli at 6:30 PM on September 22, 2018 [21 favorites]

Wordshore—I am REALLY going to make an effort to use the phrase “Those potatoes are inadequate!” in everyday conversation.
posted by bookmammal at 6:37 PM on September 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

My Dad once said to me, in marveling tones, that I had "a silver tongue". It tickled me, because I knew how much that compliment meant to him, and in our family it's no mean feat to achieve that distinction over everyone else. Dad loved talking, and giving speeches. And he wasn't bad at it, though - as in life - a little prone to bombast, and sentiment, always his own biggest fan in the audience. He spent hours and hours coaching, drilling us, in speaking when we were children; I think when he saw my speeches, he felt like he'd 'made' something unexpectedly good.

I was determined to deliver his eulogy, and make it the best speech I could. I'm a good writer (it is my living), and a good talker, and I worked and worked at it in the days following his death. As a speaker I think Dad sometimes forgot the most powerful thing is to stop performing, and focus on communicating. I wanted every single person at that funeral to understand how much I loved him, admired him, saw his flaws, forgave them, and even appreciated them. I put every atom of skill and feeling I had into it. It was the best speech I've ever given and probably ever will. I wish he could have seen it. I earned that tongue.
posted by smoke at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2018 [38 favorites]

I was dating a guy whose mother had died when he was a pre-teen. He told me, "My mother would have liked you." It meant so much because I know he idolized her.
posted by erloteiel at 6:46 PM on September 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

My choir director once told me that he very much enjoys watching me sing. I don't want to sound too braggy, but I know that I have a good voice so hearing that from people is always nice but not always memorable. But I sing with my whole body - I sway or bop around a lot, often without fully realizing I'm doing it - and occasionally I feel self-conscious about it so hearing that someone whose good opinion I value enjoys it meant a lot.

A friend of a friend in college told me once that the nail polish I was wearing made my hands look "dangerous". I have always thought that was delightful.
posted by darchildre at 7:09 PM on September 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

Morale at work is really shaky so I've been trying to compliment people's work lately, and I don't know if it was my favorite compliment given but I recently emailed someone on another team (and remembered to cc his manager!) to tell him how much I appreciated that in his psychological assessments, he was explicitly culturally aware of not pathologizing every little thing (e.g., in the one that inspired my email, he was assessing for hallucinations and said that the client sometimes sees and hears ghosts, but he wrote that such a belief was quite likely cultural and not indicative of a psychotic disorder; he's written similar things in other assessments, especially about symptoms that are likely due to trauma but could look like Borderline Personality Disorder).

He wrote back saying that he had been having a really bad week and was despairing a bit about whether his work mattered, and whether anyone actually read his assessments, and that my comment made him feel better, so that was nice. And his manager wrote back to both of us saying that she appreciated that about him too, so that was also nice.

And this reminds me that I forgot to write the email I meant to write thanking our privacy officer for being awesome. I was getting into a power struggle with a partnering agency about how much HIPAA-protected information we could share with them without a release of information, and I didn't want to alienate the agency but I also didn't want to violate confidentiality rules, and the privacy officer volunteered to have a conference call with all of us to work through the issues, and he was just so upbeat and charming and knowledgeable that he somehow made us feel like we were all on the same team while also being really clear about what could and couldn't be shared, and we all left feeling good about it. So I shall take this paragraph as a first draft for an email to him Monday morning.
posted by lazuli at 7:15 PM on September 22, 2018 [14 favorites]

I did hear Mary Berry say to a proud local, at a village show a while back, that "I could never bake a cake as perfect as the one you have made here". Which you could see meant the world to the local with the cake.

Um, that would mean the world to anyone, right? Or are there people who say "Mary Berry? Pah, she's too soft. Now, a double handshake from the male juudge, that is a compliment worth framing." ;)

Oh and a duchess and owner of a castle told me a few years ago that the tea I made was the best she had tasted since the Silver Jubilee (1977), and I will take that.

That is a fantastic compliment, and I am both tempted to visit you just to ask for some tea, and horrified that I could never serve you tea, because I would offend you in a dozen different ways.

Back in college, an English professor wrote that it was a joy to read my writing, which made me just about glow. I don't consider myself a writer, or even a great close reader. But I felt awkward with that comment after other students in the class said they had no idea how to satisfy the professor, because all I could think was "I don't know, but she loves my writing."


I love that pumpkin flavored everything is coming here (I already bought pumpkin spice pancake mix!!), but more so, that spooky/ Halloween everything is here. We just picked up cartoony Halloween sheets for our bed on the cheap, and yes we will have them on our adult bed throughout the year, why do you ask?

And then there's the weird holiday stuff, which is someone's attempt to capitalize on the love of the season, like this ceramic pumpkin with a pumpkin painted on it, flanked by fall leaves, and the words "Sweater Weather" -- I would love to know how this came to be. Was it a failure to understand directions by someone, or an intentional design?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 PM on September 22, 2018 [7 favorites]

When one of my former patients couldn’t remember my name, he described me to a co-worker as “the white girl who’s really quiet and always trying to help me.” I have never been more honored. That always trying to help part was HARD EARNED yo.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:42 PM on September 22, 2018 [17 favorites]

I'm always pleased to be complimented on my accessories (purses, scarves, jewelry) because I spend a lot of time finding cool stuff and I think I have a good eye for the unusual and pleasing. Clothes are like whatever for me (Summer: same LL Bean tank top in 6 colors, aaaaaand done), but accessories are like tiny nifty works of art that I carefully select and curate and they all delight me so I am extra-delighted if you notice them and like them!

I also particularly treasure compliments on my gift-giving ability because I like to think I'm good at it. I recently gave my BFF a beautiful vegan pashmina shawl for her 40th birthday -- she is always cold at work (and mostly vegan), and likes scarves, and I found a gorgeous vegan pashmina in her favorite blue that's fine enough that it scrunches to a scarf but also can be a wrap or shawl and is waaaaaaarm. And she was opening it and was like "OMG this is so gorgeous, OMG I love the pattern (silver on blue) ..." and she starts unfolding it to get a better look at the pattern and is like, "Is this ... is this a map of Norway?" YES IT WAS. Her husband is Norwegian. They were both tickled pink. Every time she wears it he keeps pointing out places on the map.

My very favorite compliments ever were about my teaching but I'll just treasure those in the silence of my heart. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:50 PM on September 22, 2018 [19 favorites]

I am a nerdy woman who has other nerdy woman friends. I was catsitting for one of them and trying to find something in her kitchen. After a little bit of futile searching I thought "Debbie is really logical. Where would it make THE MOST SENSE for this item to be?" and found it within seconds. I relayed this to her and it made her really happy and I recently overheard her telling that story to someone else.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:04 PM on September 22, 2018 [36 favorites]

The compliments I have received that I think are the funniest are 1) when we did a touristy day trip on our honeymoon and got talking to an Australian. He was disappointed to hear we were from New Zealand (and at that point we had never even visited Australia). At the end of the day he turned to us and said, "You know. For New Zealanders, you guys are great. I for one would be proud for you to be Australian."

Jokes on him, because now at least my husband has Australian citizenship and I probably will in a few years.

2) A local Aboriginal elder here keeps telling me to dig into my family history because he's sure I'm at least part Maori (despite the blue eyes and blonde hair), since I'm "too nice to be a white lady". That one makes me a bit sad to think how awful white people must generally be to him for my perfectly ordinarily behaviour to strike him that way.

"Compliments" about nationality and ethnicity, man. Super weird.
posted by lollusc at 8:08 PM on September 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

My favorite compliment is one from Star Trek (Star Trek: Enterprise, I think) given by a Vulcan. "Your performance was entirely adequate." High praise from a Vulcan, indeed.
posted by Rob Rockets at 8:22 PM on September 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

I was fortunate to see The Skatalites play at Liberty Lunch in Austin in the 80s. After the wonderful show I met the band and the bassist Lloyd Brevett looked at me with amazement, bent and kissed my hands, and kept exclaiming, "You are an angel, yes, an angel" in reverent tones. I don't know what he saw, but it made me glow.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:24 PM on September 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I was in my early 20's, my mom told me she thought I should marry my boyfriend. Then she added that she would never give my sister advice like that because my sister would probably do whatever my mom said she should, but she could say it to me because she knew I would just do whatever I wanted anyway. I guess it tells something about me that this is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of favorite compliments.
posted by Redstart at 8:35 PM on September 22, 2018 [18 favorites]

My boss once said, “I wish I could clone you.”
posted by armeowda at 8:55 PM on September 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

A story about my cat:
Sometime after 4am on Friday morning. I have gotten up to pee and notice that the cat is sleeping in the bathroom. He does this - it’s an old building and he can hear things in the walls sometimes, so he sets himself up on the rug in front of the sink to keep watch. I usually tell him I don’t want to know whatever it is he can hear. I’m sure that whatever it is isn’t going to come out while the cat is sitting right there.
This is what I’ve been telling myself for 18 months, that nothing is going to be dumb enough to smell both cat and litter box and voluntarily emerge from that creepy place under the bathtub.
So I go back to bed.
Ten minutes later I hear a crash from the bathroom. I come out of my room and see first that he has knocked over the garbage can. As I open my mouth to say “Kitten, what happened?” I realize that the cat is standing in front of me and he’s got a mouse in his mouth. Before I can really process what is happening, the cat drops the mouse, which begins running in panicked circles in the alcove in front of the bathroom. By this point I am maybe screaming a little. The cat begins to play with the mouse. This involves catching it, sitting on it in the “prey disembowelling” position and then getting up so the mouse can continue to run and panic. This lasts for about 20 seconds before the mouse sees his chance and disappears inside the bottom of the overturned garbage can (it’s one of those metal step cans with a foot pedal, so there is a space between the pedal mechanism and the removable insert).
The cat looks disappointed.
I go back to bed. I do not see the mouse when I get up later to take a shower but honestly I don’t look that hard because ugh. However as I am exiting the bath I put my foot down on the aforementioned area rug and something under the rug begins to twitch.
I do not scream. The mouse scoots out from under the rug but then just lies on the floor as though waiting for death.
At this point I don’t think the mouse is in any danger of being killed, so I retrieve the cat from where he is lounging, oblivious, in the living room. I say “ok dude there’s your mouse, I need to get dressed for work.”
The cat, thrilled with the reappearance of his new favourite toy, proceeds to chase the mouse out of the bathroom, down the stairs and into the kitchen. It has not been seen since.
posted by janepanic at 9:00 PM on September 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

Once I sold a print I’d made of a grinning, unhinged-looking cartoon face to a woman who worked at the child protective services agency in our state. A couple years later she told me it was hung in her bedroom, and she looked at it every morning and thought, “Ok, let’s do this,” before setting off for another difficult work day. I’ve never felt so good about something I made.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 9:07 PM on September 22, 2018 [26 favorites]

The highest complement I have ever received in general was when I was at my office late and talking on the phone to an acquaintance who had just told me she felt suicidal. It was a long and challenging call for me but I stayed calm. Afterwards, a fellow self-employed person who was trained as a therapist but who now works as a business coach came over to my desk. She said she figured out what was going on from my side of the conversation and considered interrupting to take over but realized that wasn't necessary and complemented me on how I handled it. That was nice to hear because it was a super stressful call (and the acquaintance is now a friend and all is well with her, yay).

On a couple of occasions I have conversations with strangers who eventually say, "You should be a writer." I am, but not the kind of writer they mean, but it is still fun to hear. What is not fun to hear is when a man tells me I am smart as a complement. That's like telling me my age or shoe size or hair color. Yes, mister, I am smart. What's your point, exactly? Did you somehow think I was labouring in ignorance of my attributes until your gaze fell upon me and now you have arrived to enlighten me with your dazzling insights into my awesomeness? Yeah, no.

In other news, I am super duper tempted to go visit some nice MeFites from the UK who visited Stockholm in the summer and rashly invited me to come see them some time. I am sick of visiting (1 week down, 6 days to go) my inappropriate, exasperating, funny, wildly unrealistic, and dying (but slowly) dad. Finally, I am homesick for Stockholm and my kid and the grandkids. This is a major (and unexpected) milestone for me. Even so am happy I made it back to the US for a visit. Strawberry-rhubarb pie, y'all. Al's Big Burgers. Juliet, Naked. Thai corn fritters. Kind friends helping me sort and ship stuff that had been in storage, by sitting with me in a back yard talking and laughing together.

I will never have such wonderful friends in Sweden. I am too old to develop that kind of shared history with new people. That is why I will keep coming back to the US periodically until my money runs out or my health fails. To be fair, I did meet two Swedish women in the observation car on the train to Colorado. We talked for two hours, in Swedish, and they asked for my email address as the train pulled into my station. So who knows. Perhaps I can build deep friendships in Sweden as well.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:14 PM on September 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

I have two favorite compliments, both from (directly and indirectly) the same person. He was the toughest coach/sensei/kru/wheatever I ever had. A Russian ex-pat, he was a paratrooper in the military when before he emigrated, and he was also a decorated "master of Soviet Sport". He was a tough bastard with a gold tooth who, when he got a hold of you, felt like you were trying to wrestle a bear, someone twice his size easily. Like most Russians, he rarely ever smiled and his tone of voice always sounded slightly angry.

So one day we're practicing some judo throws, and he has me do the same one over and over and over again, each time he would just look at me and frown and shake his head and say "no, like this" and then demonstrate it on me again. Finally, he says "ok this time, do your very best, you do on me" and I'm like "oh shit"... So I focus and try not to over think and just GO FOR IT!!!

To my surprise, I actually pulled it off pretty well. Maybe my best performance of the session. He gets up and hes' got this scowl on his face, he gives me the "come ci come ca" hand motion, and then he smiles gives me a wink and says.............

"C plus"

I was like... damn. HE SMILED! I SAW the TOOTH! a C plus.... I don't think I could be prouder right now!! That's the highest praise I ever got from this guy, like ever. Other people would occasionally get a "good" but I mean, they were doing conspicuously well, and all they got was "good". So for me, a C+ was like a gold medal.

So then an indeterminate period of months later, I'm at the place where we train, and coach isn't there this particular night, but his wife is there. It's just me and one other guy and her there and after I finish some weight training and I'm getting ready to leave, his wife just casually says "Igor says you're his best student you know."

I'm like "what? you know my name is (lets say) Bob right?"

She says "yes yes, you are Bob, I know who you are, you come here long time now, Igor says you are his best student"

The look on my face must have been one of just pure bafflement. I was just flabbergasted. I would never in a million years have guessed I was even his tenth best student. Mind you, true to form, I'm sure he'd never have told me if I was. But still. I'll remember that till the day I die.
Maybe I was better than I thought after all. Although I guess I wouldn't have kept training so often if I hadn't felt like I just wasn't naturally talented at this stuff.
posted by some loser at 9:20 PM on September 22, 2018 [20 favorites]

When I receive a compliment these days it's usually about something I've done. While that’s nice, it seems like a good 10 years since somebody complimented me on my appearance. It's not that I'm ugly or unkempt, it's just that I'm kind of in that middle-aged invisible stage of my life. On Wednesday I decided to wear a red dress to work. I don't normally wear dresses - I usually wear black pants with a neutral colored blouse, so I was a little outside my comfort zone in wearing the red dress. One of my co-workers passed me in the hallway and said "Kbar1, I love your red dress, you look so . . ." And I interrupted with the word ‘powerful’ just as she was saying “pretty.” I felt embarrassed for interrupting her and for making an assumption of what she was going to say, but mostly I felt pleased! Ridiculously pleased.
posted by kbar1 at 10:32 PM on September 22, 2018 [10 favorites]

I got a compliment from my neighbor, though it was delivered to my mother and not me.
"Oh! Your daughter keeps putting things in your garden and they look so nice!"
I mean- I don't love being called daughter, but I like the substance of the compliment.

I had a busy week, that's about to get busier first some set up, and then the pay off, At least the lettuce bed is planted. The new carrot bed had been delivered, but I have yet to set it up, spent today in Sausalito with a good friend. I've started taking herbs from the garden as bouquets, since regular flowers make everyone in my house sick, but flowering herbs don't. The ancient lemon tree (was planted before my parents bought the place so before 1970)- has decided to bear massive amounts of fruit. I am a very happy camper. There is a goofy pepper going red early, probably insect damage triggering it but all the peppers are doing well. I had a visitor to my bricks, a Red admiral butterfly, common around the world, but I don't care, I think they are beautiful. My monster triffids, also known as fava beans are growing like gangbusters and are putting out some beans.
I will be setting up the carrot bed soon, so I'll update the blog accordingly.

It's been a crazy month, and I'm kinda glad it will be over soon. October is always lucky for me- Halloween being my holy of holys. I still need to figure out if I'm going penguin or walrus, but I'm down for either. I've got to figure out if I'm doing anything but going to class in costume and then watching my favorite Star Trek, or if I'm going to brave someone's party. The San Francisco Zoo is having a special Halloween weekend before the 31st- which is a Wednesday, so I might go in costume that weekend and make kissy faces at the penguins- while dressed as one.

Dad's been doing better- this silent stroke business might be a scary load of nothing (god willing). My dog is doing well too- new meds and it looks like the scary lump on her back is a fatty tumor- benign.

I'm still loading up for my mom's upcoming birthday, all narwhal themed because why not? If anyone has a link to some cool or funny narwhal stuff please send me a line- I want to go all out, moms had it really rough this year.

I turned in my Graduation paperwork this week. Here's to my upcoming graduation! It cannot happen soon enough!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:32 PM on September 22, 2018 [13 favorites]

A former co-worker used to call me "Glenda the Good Bitch" - he said that I sparkled even when delivering bad news or holding people accountable. Even though I have mixed feelings about the term "bitch" and tend not to use it in my daily lexicon, I've always liked the sentiment.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 11:00 PM on September 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

I did some aikido in college, and there were a few people we really admired because their movement was so lovely to look at--technical skill at whatever their level was, paired with the most graceful lines. When I tested for my green belt, someone came up to me afterward and said "Hey, your test was really beautiful," and I was thrilled.
I haven't done aikido in many years and there are many other abilities I value more, whether I have them or not, but this unexpected compliment for something I would never have expected of myself was very touching.

From daily life:
--I'm trying to eat less sugar. This is not easy. If I lived in the vicinity of Wordshore, I think it would be impossible...

--The weather has been all over the place and I feel like I've had a headache for a month. My colleague who is also prone to atmospheric-pressure migraines has been suffering similarly, and we're about to volunteer ourselves to NHK as part-time weather forecasters based on presence/absence/intensity of headache.

--I did something scary today and it went okay. My orchestra is having an ensemble party in December (ie, anybody who wants to play chamber music gets a group together and performs for one another), and I kept thinking, I really want to do it but nobody will want me, nobody will ask me, I can't ask them because it'll just be a nuisance for them... and then I happened to cross paths with a clarinetist at rehearsal today and just burst out "So hey, do you want to do the Mozart Clarinet Quintet for the ensemble party?" and she said "Ooh! Sure!". And then after rehearsal I crossed paths with A, a terrific violinist who played at my wedding, and took a deep breath and said "So if you haven't had a better offer yet, how about doing this Mozart clarinet thing for the ensemble party?" and she said she'd like to. (We still need a violist and maybe another violin, depending on whether A's husband comes as a package deal or not, but that can happen.) It may end up not working out, but even so. I feel kind of nervous but very happy.
posted by huimangm at 11:16 PM on September 22, 2018 [9 favorites]

From a man who is a great gardener to me, a learning gardener:
“Just want to tell you that the Aquatic plantings are brilliant this year. The squiggly setup is pure genius. Congrats!”
I teared up reading that text. And I still think I’m not worthy of that compliment from that person.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:18 PM on September 22, 2018 [12 favorites]

Best backhanded compliment ever.

Bunch of guys talking, one guy says, hey did you hear about how a dog can be trained to “smell” cancer?

Him: Every doctor should get a trained dog.
Me: No, the idea isn’t to have an army of Schnauzers. You figure out what chemical the dog is smelling, and then you make an inexpensive test for that chemical, and distribute those everywhere.

That idea never occurred to him.

Him: Why the fuck aren’t you out curing cancer?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:29 PM on September 22, 2018 [18 favorites]

Two teenagers I used to work with in the early 2000s, who are now adults and for all I know are reading this, told me they'd decided that back in the day, I would've been "one of those secret badass Quaker ladies who hid people escaping slavery in their basements." Another kiddo from that time couldn't remember my name and referred to me as "that woman who talks like she's reading poetry." I mean, another member of that program exclusively called me "that white bitch," so it wasn't all flowers and sunshine, but there's some stuff from then that I pull up in dark times.

Also, happy fall, northern hemisphere. My small produce-loving kid ate most of a pomegranate today; good thing she's not an ancient deity imprisoned in the underworld. I've had a horrible year and am doing the mental health equivalent of hurricane prep as the anniversaries of bad things roll back around. Which right now means eating dried blueberries by moon/candle light and trying to sketch lid handles for a bunch of soup tureens I'm making. Going to put my phone away and breathe some air in the sort-of-dark.
posted by centrifugal at 11:35 PM on September 22, 2018 [16 favorites]

Oh! And compliments given. I have big feelings for someone who hates giving or receiving appearance-related compliments. I recently needed to say a nice thing to her and used a really good word that I won't say here in case she's on Metafilter. I was proud of myself for giving her a spot-on and loving compliment within boundaries.
posted by centrifugal at 12:02 AM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

My partner after I'd known the answers to a long series of obscure crossword clues: 'at first I was intimidated by how much you know, but then I realized that you're just a freak of nature!'
posted by jamjam at 12:08 AM on September 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

Whenever someone sends me a grateful email after I've helped them with something at work (ie, done my job), I save the email in a folder called "compliments". Scrolling through the folder always puts a smile on my face! My favourite one starts, "Has anyone told you today that you are fantastic?"
posted by rawrberry at 12:43 AM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

"This one is so very realistic and in keeping with the tone of the manga."

The fanfic that garnered this comment was based on something with a very small fandom. Not that the plot of the manga in question isn't very nice, but the tone was, to me, everything about why I adored it. I had spent so much time stressing about whether the story felt right, and then a total stranger said that and it might have been the happiest I've ever been. I wasn't even sure anybody else would ever read it. I still feel a bit giddy about it.

In related terms, while I am inclined to be a bit of an insomniac generally, I think the best thing I can usually say to a writer is that they made me accidentally stay up until 5am, because I only do that for the good shit.
posted by Sequence at 12:51 AM on September 23, 2018 [11 favorites]

after a party some years ago i was informed that a guy i'd been talking to had been asking about me the next day but did not remember my name, and so described me as "that hot chick with the crazy laugh who looked like she was super pumped to fight someone later" and had i not already been a strong enemy of heterosexuality i probably would've dated him for that alone.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:16 AM on September 23, 2018 [46 favorites]

A former colleague returned from a conference and during a team meeting told us quite sincerely that one of the conference presenters had been “middle-aged and stout but nevertheless quite agile”. English was not his first language and I chose to believe this was a compliment. (Now, years later, I probably fit this description myself...)
posted by The Patron Saint of Spices at 3:10 AM on September 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I got a call from a colleague this week that kind of blew me away. She's someone I've really respected throughout her entire career and what she's managed to do is quite impressive. She runs an organization much larger than the one I run, and she's been doing it forever and I've only been in this job for five years. She called to tell me that she's retiring next year and she thinks I should apply for her position. I was floored. I could barely string a sentence together in response. I've been walking on clouds ever since.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:57 AM on September 23, 2018 [19 favorites]

I do like it when my enspousenized co-mefite tells me I'm the best cook.
posted by Namlit at 4:33 AM on September 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

My friend said I was compassionate and had a beautiful soul.
posted by runcifex at 4:46 AM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

I suppose the biggest compliment I've had was when one of my preceptors from my internship was starting to consider leaving her position. Before she made the decision, she asked to meet with me and told me what she was thinking and said she'd be more comfortable with leaving if someone like me was stepping in to take care of her patients.

And that's how I ended up with my dream job. #nailedit

For giving compliments... several months ago I saw a colleague who had just nailed her look that day and looked awesome, and so I told her she looked great. I didn't mean for it to be a make-your-day kind of thing, but she broke into this big speechless smile and thanked me effusively. It felt so nice to make someone feel so nice! I do I think I made her day, and in doing so made my own day too. Gotta remember to give more genuine compliments!
posted by obfuscation at 4:47 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

I was told just this morning by my crush that I'm gorgeous and it made me blush. So thank you to my darling crush. You made me smile.
posted by Fizz at 5:03 AM on September 23, 2018 [18 favorites]

A junior-to-mid-level QA coworker had a meeting with his team to discuss ways in which all of them could improve deveoplement and testing. A senior developer told him “you need to be meaner, like theBigRedKittyPurrs”.

(I’m not mean... mostly).
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:18 AM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I once had a challenging coworker: not in the sense of being a terrible person or anything, just the sort of person who didn't understand things the same way I did at all, and so communicating with her was an awful lot of work. Her role on our project was really key and it was critical that we be able to communicate, so I did my best, and it took a lot of time.

Well, anyway, one day out of nowhere she told me: you are so good at explaining things, you should have been a teacher. I carry that one with me.

My favorite compliment to give (and I've given it a few times) is to tell someone that they often say things that surprise me. Not in that obnoxious Borat sort of way, but in the way that reminds me: smart people often look at the world very differently from each other. And it is so nice to come upon a real surprise.
posted by eirias at 5:18 AM on September 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

I once had a female co-worker call me "Sweetie" in a gathering of about 6 of us. She was sooooo embarrassed. I took it as a compliment and said, Thank you "schnookims".

I once had a person ask me to join their project because "you will add instant credibility to the project even if you end up doing very little actual work."

My favorite compliment comes every third Sunday in June. "You're the bestest Dad ever".
posted by AugustWest at 5:39 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

A veterinarian once told me he wanted to be reincarnated as a cat in my house.
posted by JanetLand at 5:46 AM on September 23, 2018 [47 favorites]

For reasons that are a little complicated to get into, the author Leon Uris read a draft of a short story I wrote when I was 25, and gave me his review. The first complement was that he didn't condescend and give me a mealy-mouthed "good effort, kid" kind of review, but instead he actually told me what he didn't like as well and talked shop with me for several minutes.

But one thing he praised was that I wrote about some heavy stuff in a frank way. "You're not afraid to look at bad stuff," he said. "Most people would shy away from that, but you're comfortable looking at it and talking about it. That's impressive."

The more I've thought about that as the years go by, the more I realize that it doesn't just describe my writing. I think he saw a strength in me that it took me several years to see myself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 AM on September 23, 2018 [23 favorites]

I struggled to think of something nice people have said to me. It's not that I've never received a compliment, but I can't remember a lot of them! Maybe I should start keeping a compliment notebook so I can write them down and revisit them when I feel bad about myself.

But, like the above comment, some years ago a successful writer I admire, whom I happen to know socially, did me the favour of reading through a story of mine and returning it with lots of comments, suggestions for a second draft, and feedback. Just the fact that he took the time to go through it so carefully is probably the biggest compliment I've ever received.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:27 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

When I was in high school, one of my teachers gave an assignment to write one nice thing about every other student in the class. About a week later, he handed us each a small hand-written piece of paper with all of the (anonymized) compliments our classmates had written about us. He explained that it was something a teacher had done for him at some point and how it meant a lot to him, so he was passing on the tradition. I was always touched by the effort he put in to that exercise and how seriously my classmates took it - everything written on my piece of paper was sincere and authentic. I used to carry it in my wallet; I still have it, but it lives in my office now.

I asked this question early last year (!) and I can finally provide an update. I went hunting for the first time ever yesterday and came away with a brace of squirrels (duck season opens next month). It was odd to finally be out in the field after thinking and learning about this for a year and a half, but I would say it was a positive experience overall.

I do seem to have started a trend of ending up in bodies of water, though - I fell in a marsh yesterday and slipped in to a lake when I was camping last week - so I hope that doesn't keep up as the temperatures drop.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:38 AM on September 23, 2018 [8 favorites]

My very favorite compliment I've received was on a student evaluation - this student wrote "Other than her weird obsession with monkey genitalia, Erin was a great teacher and I learned a lot." I've worked that one into my teaching philosophy!

My second favorite compliment I've received was at a fete in Cote d'Ivoire, during the all night dance party portion of a funeral in one of the villages where I spent a lot of time. I was dancing with some friends, and I heard someone walking past say, "Mais regarde! La blanche là, elle danse!"

I've been rejected from 7/7 jobs I've applied to since June, and I've been pretty dejected about the whole situation. But I got two really kind compliments from the people who rejected me at the two jobs I was most excited about: one person told me I was clearly a question-driven scientist during the interview, and that even if they hired someone else they were excited to see what I did next. And I just got an e-mail from the most recent person who told me they follow my twitter and knew I was interesting, but never realized how broadly accomplished at my science I am, and that they were very impressed by the (pretty unique) set of skills I've developed and the ways I put them together to do science and answer questions, even if they hired someone who had a more relevant background. I'm still dejected about jobs, but as the academic job market kicks off into full swing, it's really nice to remember that I'm an interesting candidate for jobs and I do have a cool background, but more importantly that whether or not I get a particular academic job isn't a statement on the quality of my science or myself.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:27 AM on September 23, 2018 [25 favorites]

I am hugely praise motivated (which probably has something to do with my mom not being incredibly complimentary; she praised a lot, but it wasn't often specific or anything - just "good job" or "good girl!" or "oh that's wonderful") so I love compliments. But for the life of me I can't remember any of them. But I do try to make my compliments a bit more specific now that I understand how anemic my mom's praise was ("that's awesome, I like the way you did x and y, it's really cool!", etc.).
posted by elsietheeel at 7:31 AM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Back when I was a ski instructor, a client once said to me after a lesson "You must be good at this, because I really enjoyed that and normally I HATE EVERYTHING". That one has stuck with me for some reason.

It's better than the one I got the other day when I was on a call with a vendor, trying to figure out whether their product was a good fit, I asked them a technical question, and their Chief Somethingty Officer on the call said with a voice of astonishment "wow you HAVE done your homework!" no dude this is my job.
posted by quacks like a duck at 7:39 AM on September 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

About a week later, he handed us each a small hand-written piece of paper with all of the (anonymized) compliments our classmates had written about us. He explained that it was something a teacher had done for him at some point and how it meant a lot to him, so he was passing on the tradition. I was always touched by the effort he put in to that exercise and how seriously my classmates took it - everything written on my piece of paper was sincere and authentic. I used to carry it in my wallet; I still have it, but it lives in my office now.

Ooh, my former manager had our team do a version of that, where everyone put their name on big index cards and then we passed the cards around and wrote short phrases about what we liked about that person. I still have mine pinned to my bulletin board.
posted by lazuli at 7:55 AM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I decided to stop dying my hair a few years ago I got some really negative comments (what with being a woman alive in society and all) including my boss - a woman - announcing across the staff office one day "Get that dyed, it looks awful!" Now it looks like this (...sometimes...on a good day...) and I get compliments all the time, my favourite being when I was in New York last year with my Mum and a young, fashionable type woman passed me on the street and said "Your hair is fabulous." I'm from a small town in Ireland and I was like "OMG Mum a NEW YORK LADY said my hair is FABULOUS!!" Valuing the superficial? Buying into the beauty stereotype? You bet your ass baby!

On an actually important note, we have an intern in work doing an evaluation project and she's been going through the anonymous feedback forms we give to clients when we finish with them. We don't see them, and she called me in last week and said "I thought you'd like to see this one." A client who had been very suicidal when we started working together, and on occasion during the work, had finished in a good place. He'd written on the bottom of the form "If it wasn't for her I'd have been dead long ago." I can't take all the credit actually as he worked really hard, but that made all the crap I have in work feel worthwhile.

Oh also my niece once said I was the best auntie in the world and as that's the one most based on scientific fact I'll go with that.
posted by billiebee at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2018 [23 favorites]

I’m the original question asker and the compliment that made me ask this question is one that still lives in my private Hall of Fame. I was at a conference some years ago when I found myself seated next to a middle-aged Belgian man. We chatted a bit and he said: “You so remind me of the daughter of a friend of mine!” I asked who the friend was, and he said “Robert Thurman, the professor of Buddhism at Harvard” and then explained some more about Dr. Thurman’s work and biography. “Anyway, he’s got a daughter, Uma, who is an actress. Have you heard of her? You look just like her!”
I still don’t know if that was the most elegant compliment I ever got, or just someone being an absentminded professor, but it is my favorite.
posted by Atrahasis at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2018 [28 favorites]

Two from my undergraduate life:

1) Comic, from a professor I knew quite well: "Pretty lousy job" (score of 99 1/2 out of 100 on a midterm).

2) Serious, from the professor who read and re-read my honors thesis more intensely than my doctoral advisers did my dissertation: "I really have no criticisms to make of this revision."
posted by thomas j wise at 10:44 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

You know how people never want to “look like tourists” and just want to “blend in” with the locals when they travel to another country? I think my husband achieved this in spades on our most recent trip to Rome. First, he was asked for directions by an Italian, in Italian - who looked very confused, and walked away after realizing he spoke almost no Italian. Next, he was approached by a man looking for directions to the Colleaseum - turns out he was French, and had thirty young (approx 10yrs old) students and four chaperones! Husband very proudly led the way, via some shortcuts we know.
posted by dbmcd at 11:16 AM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

This is a great thread, and perfectly timed as I'm feeling pretty down this weekend so thinking about positive things really helps.

- During my senior year in high school I was in a Marine Biology class that I really enjoyed and liked the teacher. But I wasn't looking forward to having to come up with the required term paper/project for the class, until she offered to provide me with all the B&W film I needed if I'd go to the beach (we were on the east coast of Florida) and take pictures of the different forms, features, structures, plants, etc. of the beach and coastal environs. I was getting into photography at the time and another teacher had recently sold me their old 35mm SLR camera, so I jumped at the idea. I took the job seriously; I spent many weekend mornings and evenings at different beach locations being as thorough and detailed as possible. When I had returned all the rolls and she'd had a chance to look at the results, she told me she was so happy with the pictures that she wanted to use them as teaching materials in her future classes! I hadn't expected that so I was delighted and proud - 2 feelings that were rare for me as a child and young adult.

- Recently I spent a weekend at what has become an annual get-together with some friends. Near the end of the weekend we were talking about future gatherings and (rather facetiously) how to manage the increasing number of attendees, when one person said something about how they could never exclude me because my cooking was so good. Not that I was worried, but it felt nice to know people enjoyed my food enough to compensate for my terrible puns.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh yeah, just a couple weeks ago my friend of over 20 years told me I was far and away the best friend he'd ever had. I didn't feel terribly heroic, because what even is friendship if not standing by and supporting each other through thick and thin? But I'm very glad to know I've been a good friend, and that I'm appreciated for it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

It's not a direct compliment, but I'm always secretly thrilled when my husband (who writes in his spare time) comes to ask me for synonyms to figure out the right word.

Also, a guy I knew once told me I had nice shoulders, and it's always stayed with me because a) he wasn't being a creep and trying to pick me up and b) it must have been an honest compliment because who would pick that at random. Now when I'm having a bad day I'm like hey, at least I got good shoulders.
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:50 AM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I love this question and everyone's responses.

Mine are mostly teaching-related; I have a whole file full of nice notes from kids and parents that I can look over when I get the occasional email from a parent telling me I am a bad person who only got into teaching to torture children. My favorite last year, from a 13 year-old, told me in a full page of tiny writing that, among other things, I was "extremely kind and have made [kid] want to be a more forgiving person," noted my community involvement and said and that because of me she was "inspired to be a better violist and person in general." It was a tremendous letter- this kid could legit give a Ted talk on making a middle school orchestra teacher cry.

This week, I was preparing a student for an audition for an honor group before school. She anxiously asked who would be in the room for it and I said, "Just my friend Mrs. X., who is like, my twin but so much nicer and smilier, she's my role model pretty much." and the kid said, "You are nice! You are just honest with us. Like, the band kids all say teacher X just stops them and tell them they were great and they know they weren't great and they sound kind of sucky forever. But when we sound awful you grin at us and say THAT WAS TERRIBLE HERE'S HOW TO MAKE IT LESS BAD and then we do! We sound good eventually because you keep it real." I thought that was pretty great.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:52 AM on September 23, 2018 [22 favorites]

Also, a guy I knew once told me I had nice shoulders, and it's always stayed with me

Yes, these things do stay with us. I had an ex gf that once told me that I look great in pastel colours because of my skin tone/colour and she was right and whenever I go shopping, I make sure to keep myself open to those colours because it feels good to know she was right, even if we're no longer together.
posted by Fizz at 11:59 AM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

One I think about often is from the only good education professor I had in college, who led a difficult but rewarding class that consisted entirely of Socratic dialogue most days. In the manner that some might now say "Some people just want to watch the world burn," he dubbed me a "dyed-in-the-wool radical" one day. I've never forgotten that.

Another one that comes to mind is when my notoriously difficult freshman-year high-school English teacher asked to make a copy to keep of some epic poetry I'd written in the Shakespearean style for a class assignment. That was definitely one of the highest compliments I could've received. I'd thought she hated me for a long time before that.

An offhanded compliment I rediscovered in chat logs a few years ago also comes back to me often these days. It helps me remember that someone has always had faith in me, even as an exceedingly arrogant young editor. A dear friend and colleague of mine and I had been chatting on AIM in early November of our sophomore year of college, as we did. He said something that in retrospect is kind of stunning, but that I forgot about for years thereafter. What he'd said included the phrase "be editor eventually"—more than a year and change before I recall countenancing the notion myself. Maybe that planted a seed of thought, because eventually I did become editor of my college newspaper. He saw it before I even imagined it for myself. I try to remember that when I'm afraid I don't have a good-enough vision for the future.

Aw, these are good memories. Along the lines of the shoulders one, stillnocturnal, and the pastels one, Fizz, I still often think of the unrepeatable comment about my "booty" delivered by a guy I dated on and off in high school and college. It was a good one.
posted by limeonaire at 12:15 PM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

My first nursing job was at a teaching hospital with a new grad nurse program. This means that the place was loaded with doctors and nurses who have just graduated from their respective schools. Most of them struggle at first, some of them wash out. So it took about a year and a half before the senior docs knew my name and thought I probably wasn't going to kill their patients. One night I was the nurse for a little old lady with a severe GI bleed. Her vital signs and her relevant lab work were getting worse by the hour. She was refusing a blood transfusion until she could talk to her husband - who was home fast asleep with his hearing aids out and not answering the phone. When the admitting physician -- one of the senior docs, the one person in the building who I would immediately pick to treat me or my family -- saw me, he said "Oh, thank God it's you."

I don't work at that hospital any more. Now I'm in a different state and a different type of nursing job, and on Tuesday I turn 50.
posted by shiny blue object at 12:20 PM on September 23, 2018 [15 favorites]

I've mentioned her before on Metafilter, but my favorite boss is an older lady who has been through the goddamn trenches. When she was younger, she had labor bosses threaten to call her dad because she was being such a [expletive deleted] to them. Once, she was almost removed from a business lunch meeting because they were having the meeting at a club that happened to be men-only, with women guests only allowed to dine in a single area. She sewed her own maternity work clothes, because everything in the department stores had duckies and bows on it, because clothing manufacturers didn't expect working professional women to get pregnant, or stay in the profession if they did.

And her response to this nonsense was excellence. She worked harder, thought more deeply, and demanded more of herself than comparably situated men, and after thirty years in the profession, you can see it in the way other people in our profession talk about her. Anywhere in the city, if you bring up her name in a professional meeting, the response is uniformly warm and respectful. (The labor bosses who used to threaten to call her dad have, by and large, died of old age. A few of them went to jail, then died of old age.)

And she demands the same hard work and excellence from the people who work for her, which makes her a tough boss, but there is nobody I respect more professionally. I have a friend in the same professional, and we not-a-joke, seriously talk about how, when things get tricky or contentious, we ask ourselves WW[INITIALS OF BOSS LADY]D, because she's our professionalism Jesus.

I've spent the past 10 years working for her, and about two years ago, I was up for an award. I asked her to write me a letter of recommendation.

Her expression of delight and pleasure made my week, even more than the letter itself.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:36 PM on September 23, 2018 [12 favorites]

The compliments that stay with me are the ones that were unexpected, that I genuinely didn't believe at the time, like when I was 13 and explaining a cool math problem to a friend and their mother told me I was "nurturing". Get out of here, I thought for the next few years. I'm a teacher now.

There was also a girl who told me in high school, "You're one of about three people whose fashion sense I really admire." If I'd ever heard anything like that before, it had been sarcastic, but I knew she was being genuine even if it was deeply puzzling to me. I thought that clothes were stupid, people who cared about clothes were stupid, and my wardrobe was a rebuke to the very idea of style. That compliment messed with my head in the best way, helping me ditch the negativity (and latent misogyny) so I could begin to enjoy my own and others' fabulousness.
posted by aws17576 at 2:52 PM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Two that I remember, for different reasons.

One, working at a BBQ restaurant in Yokohama, close enough to the US Navy base in Yokosuka that we got a lot of people from the base, family members, and so on. I didn't usually leave the kitchen area, but for some reason, I was upstairs, and a group of three women asked me about the desserts. I usually made the apple crisp, another guy made the pecan pies. I told them I'd just made an apple crisp that morning, and they all ordered that. Later, when they were leaving, one of the women made a point to tell me that the apple crisp had "warmed my whole heart." I don't think I've ever received a food compliment so specific and pleasant as that.

The other, in southwest China during the lunar new year holiday, on vacation from teaching in Wuhan, I met some pretty wonderful people from all around the world. One of them was a Danish woman named Sif, and we hung out a little bit. She had blue eyes that were at once so bright and so pale as to be almost white, and I'd never seen anything like them. Me, I've got standard North American brown eyes, nothing I'd ever really felt anything about, positive or negative. One day, we were sitting at a table outside a cafe, and I noticed she was kind of staring at me, while making direct eye contact, which was a little unsettling. I asked her if something was wrong, and she said, "no, it's just that you have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen."
posted by Ghidorah at 3:15 PM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

A colleague once told me that I was really good at meetings. She meant it as a compliment and I took it as one. I run a lot of meetings and like to think I do a good job of it. It was nice to be seen.

Recently the mayor of my city gave me a major shout out at a press conference, giving me credit for introducing her years ago to the idea she was promoting in the press conference. She said we were now one step closer to my dream. It's something I've been working on for 10 years and we're getting really close and it felt very good to be recognized for it.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:56 PM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Super superficial and vain: the handful of times people said I looked like Johnny Depp or Jim Morrison. Alas, that was 20 years and even more kilos ago.
posted by signal at 4:08 PM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Less superficial: the times ex-students have come to me and said things like 'your class really changed my life'.

More specifically, I have a friend, Diego, who was briefly my student, then TA then co-professor in the Masters of Architecture program we both studied and taught at. While he was my student, I gave him a 30 minute introduction to scripting in 3ds Max, and he took it and ran with it all the way to a Masters and in progress PhD at the MIT Media Lab. He's awesome, super talented and accomplished, and I would never take credit for him in any way, but the other day some students at the university we both work at, and where he's a bit of a legend, said that they wanted to take my class because they'd heard about me, that I was the one "who taught Diego how to program", and the only person who could have told them about this was Diego himself. It's a deeper compliment because it's not even something he's said to my face, but rather to other people.
posted by signal at 4:17 PM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

My fiancee's brother once said this about me: "I really admire fairlynearlyready." When asked why by his girlfriend he said, "Because she never does anything that she doesn't want to do."

It is hands down the best compliment I've ever gotten and I felt very seen and understood!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 4:25 PM on September 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

I wouldn't have been pleased if he'd said it to my face, but I did cackle with glee when word got around to me that a college friend had said my ass should be declared a national treasure. A French professor also told me in college that I have a very synthetic mind. I'll probably never forget either of these things, so draw your own conclusions re: what that says about my sense of myself.

Anyone who tells me I have a good handshake, which happens once in a while, is the best. (My grandmother's college roommate taught me to give a good handshake when I was a kid.)

Also we did "what's your weirdest compliment" on Twitter recently and it reminded me of when I was at a New College party in Sarasota and a woman who may or may not have been on a lot of coke walked into the room and told me right away in apparent earnestness that she loved my eye turn. (I have strabismus and can't focus with both eyes at once, it's usually my right eye that turns involuntarily outward.)
posted by clavicle at 4:33 PM on September 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

"4ster is good at meeting people where they are."
posted by 4ster at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Unrelated to the prompt, but precisely one year ago (to the hour) I survived a really brutal sexual assault.

I’m still recovering, but goddamit, I’m here.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2018 [52 favorites]

A couple weeks ago I was walking down an alley way; a couple passed me going in the other direction. I didn't recognize either person. As we pass, apropos of nothing, the girl said something like "Hey, dude, you're the man!" (clearly to me) and I, a bit taken aback, just said "Uh, thanks" and kept walking. It has bugged me intermittently since it happened because the whole encounter made no sense. Apparently there are people who just walk around saying weird semi-complimentary stuff to strangers and I never noticed in thirty-something years of existence.
posted by axiom at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm "way too fucking optimistic," my "eyes are so blue you could swim," and I'm "scary smart."

I live at the top of a steep hill and when I'm in front of my house and see a cyclist or runner who's almost reached the top of the hill I yell "you can do it! I believe in you!"
posted by bendy at 10:47 PM on September 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

ocherdraco, much love. I've often thought of you and wished you well over the year.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 10:56 PM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Yes, you are, ocherdraco, and this internet stranger thinks the world is better for it.

I just spent a weekend with a friend and her preteens. "The kids just lit up," my friend told her parents, "like, finally an adult who can hold a conversation!". It was mostly because I have a reasonable grasp of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I'll take it.
posted by hannala at 12:49 AM on September 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

This is a lovely thread and I was too messed up yesterday to read it but I am OK today.

Recently as I think I have posted, I have been dealing with a lot of Stuff and feeling a bit like an alien trapped in a very human (as in failure-prone) body. A dear friend, with whom I worked for a while, so she's known me in lots of contexts, told me I'm the most human person she knows. I cried, mostly from relief. I won't forget it.
posted by wellred at 6:40 AM on September 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

The easiest compliment for me to receive was when a friend who worked in fine dining tried my brisket and said, "oh shit, this is the business."

The most memorable compliment I've received, though, came after a performance as Harry McAfee in "Bye Bye Birdie" at a summer music program I did, when one of the old queens who came to every show every year told me I was "the soul of Paul Lynde." Honestly I found that one a bit terrifying, but I still think about it.

The most satisfying compliment I've ever given was when I contacted a business to single out the customer service person who had made special effort to fix a billing problem we'd had that previous people had all made worse with quick fixes. A few years later I met that same person through a mutual friend, recognized her name, and said, "wait, were you at [COMPANY]?" She knew who I was and said she'd taken a copy of that letter of commendation and it had helped her get another, better job.
posted by fedward at 8:34 AM on September 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

I went to a one-year-old's birthday party yesterday. I don't have or interact with kids all that much, so I asked her mom what I should get. I got a suggestion of some toys, then also added this book, because her mom's a graphic designer. I got a very enthusiastic text saying that she loved it, and the kid was pointing at the pictures, which is a reliable sign the book is a hit. Not a direct compliment, but it made me happy.
posted by Fig at 8:35 AM on September 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

A few that stand out:

A fellow English teaching assistant: "You always look so serene."

The insistence of all of my teachers, from high school through grad school, that I had a gift for teaching, was born to be a teacher, and should replace them in their jobs when they retired. (Reader, I did not want to be a teacher. But I do work in a university environment.)

And one that didn't start out as a compliment, but that turned into a double-barreled one: I spent a summer as a camp counselor and wanted to make a few extra bucks as a lifeguard. The aquatics director did a thorough job in training the new lifeguards and we spent a solid two weeks together from 9-5 learning how to be lifeguards. I don't remember the exact reason I said this, probably because he was insisting on the long way around and being meticulously complete, but at one point I amusingly-exasperatedly said to him "Jamie, you remind me so much of my dad." He stopped short, looked deeply at me, and said "That is perhaps the biggest compliment I've ever received in my life." It took me quite a while to grasp the underlying meaning but I cherish that one.
posted by Liesl at 8:36 AM on September 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

My two favorite compliments:

"I'm really glad we had a chance to talk, thank you!" and it's variations, like "That was really helpful." and "I feel so much better now!" with the context that we had a nice chat and connection and I was able to lift someone up with my words or by listening to them.

I strive to earn that one pretty much every day. I live for moments in conversations where a friend says something like "I should stop drinking." or "I should do more yoga or ride my bike more." and I'm all over them in the best way possible. "You can totally do that. In fact, you may not realize it, but you just took the first step. I'll help you take the next ones, if you like, or check in on you. Ok? Ok!"

Second, I also really like "Wow, you have amazing music!" and variations like "I love it when you're here playing music!" and this ranges from me just annoying people with my bluetooth speaker on the patio of my local bar to DJing club nights or full on raves.

Yeah, bluetooth speakers are annoying but I'm a pro with mine, and I can tell when it's bugging people instead of being good, appreciated or soothing.

Not coincidentally the two compliments tend to go together, as a lot of the music I'm playing is mellow, emotionally triggering (in a good way) deep house and ambient that tends to have a lot of positive themes, words, lyrics or samples. I can set a mood in like 15 minutes where people just start opening up, and it's been pointed out to me many times. "We have the best conversations when you're here!"

Also, I've definitely grown to like, accept and appreciate "You look great!" from my friends, whether it's a good outfit or they just notice I look good or healthy, especially because it's in the context of changes going on that people are starting to notice.
posted by loquacious at 11:40 AM on September 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

And this reminds me that I forgot to write the email I meant to write thanking our privacy officer for being awesome.

Email sent!
posted by lazuli at 11:46 AM on September 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

(Background: I'm a black-haired, bespectacled, British, butch woman.)

One of the finest compliments I have ever received in my life was in Belgium, at the 200th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo. BlueNorther and I had met two cheerful and friendly young German lads - fellow French soldiers - at our regiment's campfire one night, and we were all having a grand old natter. Then one of them informed me that I reminded him very much indeed of John Oliver, “not only in looks, but in what you say, and how you say it”.

Me: “!”

Him: “I do not want to offend you by comparing you to a man, since you are a woman - ”


(Side-note: we're still friends with them on Facebook, and we were delighted to meet up with them both again at the Battle of Jena re-enactment the following year. :) )
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

I got this compliment a few minutes ago and it totally reversed the irritation and slight incompetence I was feeling a couple hours earlier, "You are kicking butt and thank you! You are doing a great job! It is really nice to be able to give someone a project and then not worry about it getting done and done correctly, too!!"

posted by elsietheeel at 2:41 PM on September 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

13 years ago, just around the time I was laying the foundation for reinventing my life (including, you'll note, joining Metafilter), I was talking to the man who would be my first client - signing me up for enough money for enough months that I could chuck my dead end job at the uni in Chicago and run away to San Francisco. He said, "You're very good at doing what it is you do" during a consultative phone call with him. It was just the right words at just the right time to give me the impetus to give up full time employment and run with earning my own money directly.
posted by infini at 3:12 PM on September 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

I write proposals and the dirty secret is we occasionally have to make things up. Timelines are short, subject matter experts sometimes can't return information to us in time, and it's just part of the process. It's acknowledged that there's an acceptable level of risk involved. One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from an executive I respect who said, "The stuff she makes up is not only plausible, it's also legal."

Apparently I'm also the person people call when they have cat crises. Ceiling cat? Under/over-medicated cat? Dying or dead cat? Check. It's strangely reassuring that you haven't completely messed up your life when someone trusts you to help them through a pet crisis.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 3:14 PM on September 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

On several occasions, when I've admitted to being nervous/worried/anxious/scared shitless about something after the fact, people have told me that they couldn't tell at all. It always makes me feel good because a) I really can perform under pressure even though the brain weasels are yelling at me the whole time and b) in stressful situations, the last thing I want is to make other people feel anxious, too.

On a lighter note, I was walking home from the grocery store one morning and an older guy in the shopping center parking lot looked at me managed to say, "Daaaaaaaaaaaamn, woman" in such a way as to be not at all creepy and totally flattering.
posted by coppermoss at 3:53 PM on September 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

In the pure vanity category: when I was in my 20s, I was often told that I looked like "a young Ingrid Bergman", which was nice to hear. I admit that I was a bit taken aback about 20 years ago (I was in my early 40s) when I was approached by a stranger who asked if anyone had ever told me that I looked like Ingrid Bergman. Not "a young" Ingrid Bergman, mind you, simply "Ingrid Bergman", who had been in her late 60s when she passed.

(Sadly, that was the last time anyone remarked on that resemblance.)
posted by she's not there at 4:35 PM on September 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

One day, after I'd known my best friend for several years, his grandmother sent him a short email out of the blue. In her rather broken English she pointed out that he and I had been close for a while now, that we were good for each other, and that it was "time to make the decision. I am so happy for you!". My friend just about died laughing and ran to get me: "My grandma just declared us engaged!".

Now, my friend's grandmother is a truly impressive woman - intelligent, caring, funny, creative, talented, eloquent, brave (and I mean brave and eloquent like, when her husband went missing during the occupation of Shanghai she took to the streets looking for him, found where he was being detained by Japanese soldiers, and then successfully negotiated his release). So, from my perspective, for a woman like her to decide that (regardless of race, social class, and the fact that her daughter - my friend's Mom - didn't like me) I was good enough to be a part of her family and for her to actively try to make it happen, that's a pretty good compliment.

I never did marry her grandson though.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 5:03 PM on September 24, 2018 [13 favorites]

A very smart friend (Economist, PhD Oxford in Maths, published in Nature, fellow of Santa Fe Institute), on hearing we were sending our boy to an expensive private school because it has really good academic results, said we where 'over-investing in his education' because we're both smart enough that he'd obviously do really well without a fancy school.
posted by signal at 5:46 PM on September 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm late to the party but the best compliment I ever heard someone else receive was when my sister was five or six years old. She came home from school with a list of nice things people in the class had said about her; I don't know if this was something they did for everyone or something they did as a special occasion if a particular kid was feeling down or low in confidence that day or whatever.

In among the usual stuff like "[sister] is always kind to others", someone had added "[sister] has such lovely plimsolls". The idea that there was this one other five year old who was just incredibly jazzed about my sister's (completely ordinary, plain black) gym shoes has always stayed with me.
posted by terretu at 4:14 AM on September 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

It makes me laugh now, but it was scary and hellofva funny at the time.

:While Intercepting my best friends Ex as he tried to hit her::


I laughed. Myself and friend walked away unhurt :)

I took it as a compliment :)
posted by Faintdreams at 6:20 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

"You're a hard worker". In an age of layers and layers of management and delegation; few things have built and accomplished actual things like people that produce well. I am very grateful for having that quality; and as a (semi) adult; I hold it closer and closer lest the gift be abused.
posted by Afghan Stan at 8:27 AM on September 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

- Model Student
- Poet
- Fond of and good at consoling people

That's my description in the fourth-grade yearbook. I suspect one of the moms came up with it; later reunions with classmates revealed that what they found most memorable about me were tantrums about failed art projects and my uncanny ability to get myself covered in ink-stains at every opportunity. So, yes, probably a censured version, but I'll take it. It just seemed like a good programme to follow - a pursuit of knowledge, beauty, compassion. Something to write on the gravestone too.

Hate to say it, but there's not much left of these aspirations nowadays. Being a model student only takes you so far (Lisa Simpson, pleading "Grade me" - story of my life). My ready consolations have wilted into platitudes. I will still drop some rhymes for any occasion, if requested - gstanzeln for a friend's wedding, new lyrics for a drinking song for my militant feminist student corps, little riddles about our friends for a treasure hunt. A neat party trick. It was probably never more than that, to be honest; the bulk of my rhyming has always been made to order, for some special occasion or another: Gebrauchslyrik, rather than cries from the heart (except for the militant feminist drinking songs of course; those I'm feeling very deeply). Four or five more intimate attempts, between 13 and 16, have not been made available to a wider public. I haven't tried for any serious poetry after puberty.

In fact, my career as a poet probably peaked at 8, when I was chosen (see: model student) to give the flowers to the famous writer on her 80th birthday. I had made up four lines to go with the flowers and delivered them without a hitch. The famous writer turned to me, and said, so that only I could hear, "Ah well, rhymes don't make a poem."

Constructive criticism, fine, but I won't lie, I was a bit taken aback. I mean, come on. I'm eight, I'm giving you flowers, it's supposed to be cute. What did you expect? The Mozart of poetry? Of course now I love to tell the story (to the point I'm not entirely sure I didn't make it up) and there wouldn't be story if she hadn't said that.

I still kinda regret giving her the flowers though. Eventually I got old enough to read up on her myself, and guess what, Gertrude, my rhymes may be shitty, but at least I didn't join the NSDAP.
posted by sohalt at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

(I won't deny she had a point about the poetry).
posted by sohalt at 9:12 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

A few years back, some guy trying to chat me up through a dating app said to me, "I bet you've got a personality like Maude Lebowski." Still my favorite compliment, even if he might not have intended it as such.
posted by palomar at 10:07 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

I find it hard to remember things like this but this one I saved so it won't be a victim of my bad memory. For the external reviewer for my PhD defense, we were actually able to get the researcher who did all the key discovery work on my main protein of interest. I was very nervous about what he would think since his work was excellent and critical for my entire thesis (which I was pretty sure was complete garbage by that point), but his feedback on my thesis included the nicest compliments I think I've ever gotten:

"writes more clearly and logically than an overwhelming majority of her peers"
"the introduction and background sections are among the most superb I have ever reviewed"

in addition to many other nice things, ending with: "I would be delighted to recruit her to a post-doctoral position".

But I think my favourite was his comment for the methods section - "utterly adequate".
posted by randomnity at 10:32 AM on September 25, 2018 [10 favorites]

A few years back, some guy trying to chat me up through a dating app said to me, "I bet you've got a personality like Maude Lebowski."

Please tell me you responded with "Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey."
posted by elsietheeel at 11:28 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

My favorite compliment I ever received, from a Frenchman (whose English was very good): "I feel like my English gets better when I talk to you."
posted by CiaoMela at 12:18 PM on September 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I wrote a frivolous post on my seldom-updated and neglected blog several years ago, about how things could always get worse, no matter how bad they are, if a lavish musical production number burst out for no reason.

An anonymous stranger emailed me to say that his life was really hard, and he'd had some terrible things happen to him lately, but he stumbled on my post and it made him smile and cheered him up. It's a small thing, but I think of it often.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:52 PM on September 25, 2018 [10 favorites]

Please tell me you responded with "Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey."

I absolutely did, I know when the universe is giving me a beautiful gift
posted by palomar at 10:10 AM on September 26, 2018 [7 favorites]

I am terrible at remembering these sorts of things, but today an old acquaintance all the way back from middle school (someone who I thought didn't like me much) commented in a commiserating fashion on one of my Facebook posts and I thought that was nice. Maybe I'm overly sentimental but I often think that 'likes,' favorites, thumbs up, kudos, etc. on social media feel like little compliments, and it's even better when someone cares enough to comment (in a friendly way) or they're someone you admire.
posted by junques at 12:35 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

I just had one of our library's crotchety old Korean War vets compliment me on my firm handshake-- "I like the way you shake hands. Not one of those washrags. I think a good firm handshake really means a lot."
Which I was very pleased about, as a fortyish soft-looking female librarian.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:37 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

I run a weekly knitting meet-up group with a members from a fairly wide range of national and linguistic backgrounds. Most of our regulars are chill, low-drama people who are good at making allowances for differences in culture and life experience, poor word choices because someone's speaking their third language, etc, but a few times I've had to speak up to redirect a conflict or shut down someone who was saying something inappropriate. I still sometimes think of myself as tactless and unbending (like I very much was during my teen and college years) so it means a lot when members contact me privately to say they appreciate my ability to be diplomatic and kind without giving bad behavior a pass!

Weirdest compliment I've gotten was a couple weeks ago at the same group, where a friend (Kazakh) told me (American) that I have nice teeth, which got weirder when several other people (European) chimed in like this was something they had specifically noticed about me before. I've always been self-conscious about how yellow they are, but apparently they're white, but not too white? Not something I'd ever have asked someone about, but good to know! This then turned into a discussion about national teeth stereotypes, cultural differences in childhood orthodontic intervention and the merits of dental tourism and just typing that out made me realize we are much more delightfully nerdy than I'd given us credit for.
posted by bettafish at 3:30 PM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

I’ve had several people tell me after gigs that I was the best bass player in Austin, & while they were totally wrong, it was nice to hear.

Jessamyn called me a mensch once, & that’s up there, from an authority, so.

But this Probably takes the cake as the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:48 PM on September 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

Once when I walked into a nightclub the band quit playing and then the singer said "Showtime" and they started a blues song. I am worth some cracker crumbs, but this was mostly because I'd just moved from somewhere more sophisticated and hadn't recalibrated my clothing.

The compliment that probably made my life was in high school, when the shyest and nerdliest of the math teachers handed back a little logic assignment and said "You slipped beautifully into the disjunctive!" I had, and we didn't have an example I was following. It was minor, but it was mine.
posted by clew at 1:04 PM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Once when I expressed puzzlement over the results of my Pottermore sorting quiz, my husband said, "Oh, I always figured you'd be a Gryffindor." (I still think I'm a Ravenclaw but I will take the compliment, as he is not a big compliment guy.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:40 AM on September 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

That's not a compliment, it's really a subtle insult.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:01 AM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

HAHAHAHA elsietheheel. He meant it as a compliment (brave! action-oriented! not overly stuck in one's own head!) I think but I guess I have to get a divorce now.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:27 AM on October 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

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