A while back, an individual told me how much he enjoyed my preaching. As I was feeling affirmed, he proceeded to indicate that he liked my preaching more than he liked the preaching of his “regular” preacher. In a split second, his compliment turned into an awkward, manipulative attempt to make a negative statement about his pastor. I was no longer feeling affirmed.
When people behave this way, it is safe to assume a passive/aggressive intention in their communication. Initially, the affirmation sounded good. But the negative intimation that followed negated anything positive that was shared.
When someone tries to make you feel good by speaking negatively of others, you should not feel good – you should feel used. The motives behind these types of “compliments” vary. Some have an ax to grind. Others are trying to control a situation. A few may want to impress or manipulate you. And still others just like to gossip. Regardless of the motive – this type of communication is a bad thing.
If you find yourself in this situation – if someone “compliments” you by tearing down someone else – don’t fall for it. What is it that causes us to feel good about being compared to others, and coming out on top? Insecurity. If you are vulnerable to an inferiority complex or if you need to improve on your self-esteem, speaking in a disparaging way about others or listening to others do so is a terrible way proceed.
Keep this in mind:
If someone speaks negatively about someone else to you, they will speak negatively about you to someone else.
We can do better. If someone does a good job, let them know. But don’t muddy the waters by dragging someone else through the mud. If you have an issue with a person, deal with it appropriately.
Let’s not misuse the beautiful gift of a compliment by using it as a weapon.