How to compliment a man without offending him

How to compliment a man without offending him

How you compliment him may make or break a good relationship. Can a compliment offend? Yes, when the person doing the complimenting does not mean it or the one being complimented does not merit it. It is like buying an item which is so phony that it could have only been made in a backyard factory in Kowloon and you present it to a friend or colleague as a gift. 

Men love big toys so be sure to praise his new Nissan March even if it is size-challenged. In the 70s, he was among a few hundred men with a motor car. He looked dashing and sophisticated in his 1966 Ford Cortina that he lovingly maintained for two decades. You said nothing then.

You can compliment him on how well he fits into the new official 4WD vehicle he was assigned after being promoted following a cabinet reshuffle and change of district commissioners. Men and cars are an item. Appreciating his rising star and the perks that come with it now may compensate for the vote of confidence you denied him in the past.

What if the man you wish to compliment is the type who loves to brag without being prompted about his big but ugly car, his square house that lacks aesthetic appeal or his new job that pays a fat salary? It is true there are many men out there who readily brag to other men about their many conquests of territory and acquisitions, both material and monetary. 

But men who frequently boast to their dear women or female colleagues are as rare as white rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater. Agree with the braggart. If your guy needs somebody to nurse his ego, do the needful. As they say in Kiswahili, mere words do not break bones.  He may have suffered from chronic appreciation deficiency from when he was a child.

Since few friends or workmates say little positive about him even now, he might as well blow his own trumpet.  A good-looking guy knows his worth so don’t waste your breath. He does not need affirmation from his current Nefertiti, future Cleopatra or aide de camp. If he is not good looking, tell him he is handsome.

That might bring a warm smile to brighten the face only a mother would love. Only praise his smile or laugh unless smiling makes him look like Godzilla.  OK some modern male Homo sapiens are into manicures, pedicures and facial treatments big time. Maybe times are changing and some men miss being complimented on their blue eyes or delicate piano-playing fingers. 

But be warned. Some guys do not like to be praised for looking like Justin Bieber or young John Travolta dancing in Saturday Night Fever movie. Know your man. If praising a man is too complicated for you, compliment his mom in his presence. Mama-directed compliments can earn you plenty of brownie points that are as good as money in the bank.

If you cannot compliment her from the bottom of your heart or say something nice about your man’s mother, you better stitch your mouth shut with steel wire, temporarily at least.  Unless you are a witch who likes nothing better than poisoning the chalice she shares with her mate, there is no reason on earth why would you fail to notice her cooking skills or neatness of the woman who brought into this world the man you admire at work or home.

A mother is special to a son, and you better remember that, else he will not forgive you for treating her with less than the highest respect she deserves. Praise a man’s skills at basketball or any other game that he loves. Men are players you know, and players like to be appreciated for that.

He may not be Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona or Emanuel Okwi, the star striker of Tanzania mainland champs called Simba FC. But if his team won the NSSF-sponsored media cup, give him his accolades. You do not have to like his friends but do not diss them in his face. What if one of them drinks too much and another has a roving eye? No friend is perfect. 

Before you met him he had his friends and maybe he was the centre of their universe. He depended on their help and advice. They shared joys and disappointments before you came along. Male friendships tend to be quite strong. Contrary to popular saying, a man’s best friend is not his dog but his drinking or sports buddy. Praise how smart or nice a man looks when he dons a particular suit, jeans or shoes. Stay mum when he wears his collarless T-shirts and multi-pocket shorts as if he is ready to jump the broom.

Saying nice dress or I love your shoes is OK to a woman. Do you think he is a mannequin or something?  If he only looks good in his traffic cops uniform and looks old and tired in his ‘kanzu’, what do you say to him? Hey Martian put on your uniform and let’s go clubbing? They say men are from Mars and women from Venus, right?

Dresses and looks are Mars versus Venus issues. You will not remain a man’s friend for long if you do not appreciate his many qualities. The trick is knowing when and how to express that appreciation. Praise is free to a boss or mere friend but it can cost you if you are stingy or begrudging in dispensing it.  

tnaleo@hotmail.com; cell +255-755-246136



  • avatar
    Zalha h. Mohamed

    Well said

  • avatar
    Zalha h. Mohamed

    Well said

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