Wow, isn’t it great you know a writer or artist or glassblower who has let you see their work? Yeah. Okay, here’s the thing: sometimes it’s really hard to know what to say. Do you want to be brutally honest in a way that helps? Do you want to tell them the absolute truth about what you mean? Do you want them to feel good about themselves? Do you want to politely hint at something?
Whatever you say, you want it to be taken the way you meant, right? After all, it’s easy to tell whether you’re giving a compliment or an insult. This is not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings, just to let you know that those things you think are helping build people up? Might not be doing exactly that…
Here are just a few things that you probably think are compliments, but artist/writers/yodelers generally do not enjoy hearing:
- "UGH THIS IS SO GOOD IT MAKES ME NEVER WANT TO DRAW/WRITE/BASKETWEAVE AGAIN!"
- alternatively, “THAT’S, I QUIT, I’LL NEVER DRAW/WRITE/BREW BEER AGAIN”
- or, “KILLS SELF BECAUSE THIS IS SO GOOD AND I WON’T ACHIEVE THAT!!!”
What you mean: “I BELIEVE YOU TO BE BETTER THAN ME. YOU ARE GOOD.”
What they hear: The artist/writer/french-braider feels really uncomfortable and is uncertain about ever showing you their work ever again. What if they hurt your feelings? What if, worse still, they’re responsible for you not doing the thing you love? Ouch, no one wants to be responsible for that.
- "I read/watched/saw/absorbed something just like that!"
- or, “Oh my god, like in Star Wars?”
What you mean: “This is so great it reminds me of another great thing!”
What they hear: “You’re unoriginal.”
- "I don’t even like this kind of thing, and I liked this!"
- aka, “Wow, I usually hate science fiction, but I loved your story about gay space pirates!”
- or “I’ve never been drawn to alchemy and I don’t know anything about it, but the way you turn lead into gold is really something special!”
What you mean: “Your writing/drawing/shotputting is so amazing, it was able to capture my heart when everything else in the genre had failed!”
What they hear: “Better than the rest of that garbage I hate.”
- "I found very few mistakes!"
- or, “I’m very nitpicky, but there wasn’t anything wrong with this!”
- SIDENOTE: THIS DOES NOT APPLY IF THE ARTIST/WRITER/FIRE-JUGGLER ASKED FOR CRITIQUE, BETA READING, OR EDITING HELP.
What you mean: “This is flawless, and I’m not just saying that to be nice!”
What they hear: “I was looking for reasons to tear this down. I may or may not have actually enjoyed the experience.”
Those are just a few off the top of my head. Again, not trying to say that these are bad things to say: just be aware of how they come across! Obviously my reactions aren’t the same as everyone on the planet, but I’ve chosen things that I’ve heard other writers/artists/smelters mention as well.