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Why Do We Give Each Other Backhanded Compliments?

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Criticism dressed up as a compliment is no fun.
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It happens all the time — you think you’re looking good in your new shoes when a friend comes up to you and says, “You know, you actually look good in those shoes.”

Oh no, you think. Have I looked bad in every pair of shoes up until today? You have just been on the receiving end of one of society's subtle emotional killers, the dreaded backhanded compliment.

Behavioral  economist Michael Norton has been researching why we give backhanded compliments and how it feels to be on the receiving end of one. He Joined Boston Public Radio to discuss his findings and some of the worst backhanded compliments he heard during his study.

“It’s better to say nothing,” Norton said about giving someone a backhanded compliment. Listen to Boston Public Radio’s interview with Norton — you may actually learn something this time.

To hear Behavioral Economist Michael Norton's full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.

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