How to say something nice about someone’s work when you have nothing nice to say, by Wendy MacNaughton.

(via Maria)

7 Comments leave a comment below

  1. I work with artists and sometimes after a performance, well… I don’t know what to say. Now I know! Thanks!

  2. Maybe it’s best when there’s nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  3. Sounds so familiar. o_O

  4. Thanks for this!

    A friend once invited me to her company’s production of a very long (and not-so-engaging) one-man play, which was performed in the producer’s living room. Apparently, I was the only one in the audience who didn’t love the production, and I very quickly had to come up with a compliment. (Since I was a friend of a friend and everyone else knew each other, the easiest ice breakers were “What did you think of the play?” and “Wasn’t that amazing?!?”) The line I went with was “Wow; how did he memorize all of those lines?” It’s a tougher compliment to get away with if you are a performer or if the role is small, but you can always go with something generic, like “He/She looked so different / confident / natural / comfortable on stage.” If you are talking to the performer, feel free to quickly sidetrack the conversation to focus on the specifics of the research (“How did you create the emotional backstory to portray a homicidal robot spider?” or the process (“How long did you have to work on memorization?”).

    If this happens to you a lot, it doesn’t hurt to read up on the psychology of facial expressions (see Dr. Matsumoto & Dr. Eckman), to be able to more easily prevent pain and fear from creeping onto your face, while talking.

  5. I agree with m. Otherwise there might be a following question like: why do you think it is an accomplishment? I would say first what I liked about it and then what I don’t really get in a respectful way.