Compliments and Catty Comments – how to take them gracefully

Greetings Faithful Readers, and welcome to September’s Gothic Charm School. Those of you who stopped by last month will remember that the Lady of the Manners talked about compliments, questions, insults, and how to deal with them. This month is about the other side of that topic — not the receiving of said things, but the giving.

(Wait! The Lady of the Manners certainly doesn’t want her readers to think she approves of insulting people. That is NOT the idea at all. Rather, she will be talking about the seemingly favorite pastime of goths everywhere: Making Snarky Comments. With that caveat out of the way, she returns you to the usual flow of the column.)

Complimenting someone or asking a question of them should be simple. If you wish to compliment a person, go up to them, get their attention by saying “excuse me” (or something else along those lines), deliver your compliment with a smile, and then walk away. If the person responds in a manner indicating that they would like to have some sort of conversation with you, wonderful; if they just smile and go on their merry way, that’s fine too. Giving someone a compliment or asking a question of them shouldn’t be something you have to agonize over (unless the person in question is an Unrequited Object of Affection — then you’re expected to be a bit nervous).

But giving people compliments or asking them questions isn’t really what the Lady of the Manners wanted to talk about this month. The Lady of the Manners wishes to speak about one of the seemingly more popular goth social games; Making Catty Comments About Others.

The Lady of the Manners isn’t going to tell you not to. For better or worse, it is part of human nature to gossip and say snide things. HOWEVER …

You don’t get to do this to a person’s face. You don’t even get to indulge in this pastime with anyone who might repeat your comments to the person you’re commenting on. You don’t get to say mean, catty, or insulting things at a volume designed to be overheard by others. You will either learn to make your unkind comments quietly and to only a select group of people that won’t repeat them, or you MUST hold your tongue.

The Lady of the Manners is not going to stand on her digital soapbox and exhort everyone in GothyLand to be friends and play nicely. She is well aware that such a thing isn’t possible — in fact, there are people in the Lady of the Manners’ home town that she would rather not acknowledge the existence of, much less speak kindly of. Also, the Lady of the Manners has been known to hold whispered conversations in darkened clubs with dear friends about people who she would like to attack with a WetNap to fix their eye makeup. But! The Lady of the Manners would never, EVER go up to anyone and tell them she didn’t like what they were wearing, didn’t like their makeup, or anything else along the lines of an insult. Aaaaaaannnnd the Lady of the Manners would do her best to be at least polite, if not friendly, to that person if they came up and talked to her.

Don’t insult people. Remember the old saying of, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Keep that firmly in mind. If what you’re saying could hurt someone’s feelings, it is your responsibility to make sure your comments don’t get back to them.

Some of you may feel that this is a tad deceitful — that if you don’t like a person, you should be “open” and “honest” with them, and tell them EXACTLY why you dislike them so. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t agree with you. She’s not saying that you have to act as if you consider them your closest friend, but that behaving in a polite and decorous manner is what should be done. Society in general (and goth society specifically) would be much more pleasant if people weren’t quite so quick to tell each other what they REALLY think of one another.

Well, now that the Lady of the Manners feels she’s beaten that topic into the ground, she’s off to have a restorative cup of tea. Pop back next month, but in the meantime, send your questions to headmistress@gothic-charm-school.com.

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