Handy-dandy guide to not make coworkers uncomfortable

There seems to be a bit of confusion as to how to interact with coworkers in the current “social climate.” I have heard expressions of “Well how do I know what I can say?” and “So you just can’t compliment anyone anymore.”

While I know there are a few changes, let’s see if we can break this down, in a handy-dandy guide that will hopefully alleviate some of those worries.

“I like you in those clothes.”
“You look nice today.”

“I like those pants on you.”
“Those are nice pants.”

“I like the way that (insert garment) looks on you.”
“You look nice today.”

“You did a good job on that project.”

“Your work is valued.”

The compliment is not the problem. An acknowledgment of looking nice is not the issue. A concern arises when the comment is centered on the person’s BODY and not the garment of clothing.

“Nice sweater” means you see the sweater, and it is nice. “I like that sweater on you” implies that the person’s body is now involved in the conversation.

“I like those shoes” again keeps the conversation about the item, the shoes. “I like you in those shoes” brings the person’s body back into the conversation, and makes it uncomfortable.

When it comes to compliments in the workplace, it’s not that complicated. If the comment is on the work, feel free to put the person in the middle of the compliment. They have earned that. If the comment is on appearance, keep the person’s body out of it. Comment on the garment, not the person.

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