The delicate art of giving and receiving compliments

Yesterday in a bar I ask for a russian salad and what the waiter brings me is frankly impressive: original and very well-presented. It was just asking to be eaten.

So I say to the waiter: “The presentation’s great. Can you tell the chef?” He smiles.

When I am finishing eating that wonderful russian salad the waiter comes by and I say “This is the best presented russian salad I’ve ever seen.” It was the truth.

Surprisingly for me he answers: “Don’t you like the salad?”

The following sequence that I had read somewhere flashed through my head:

What with what:

– I think
– I want to say
– I think I am saying
– I am really saying
– you want to hear
– you think you are hearing
– you want to understand
– you think you are understanding
– you are really understanding

there are nine steps towards mutual misunderstanding.

Maybe two compliments were too much or maybe the waiter perceived exaggeration on my part. I will never know. Although I still find it curious just how difficult it is to give (and receive) compliments.

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