Compliments (part 1 of many)

Making a compliment can be  tricky in one’s native tongue – in another language it is downright daunting.  Let’s ease into this topic by starting with complimenting stuff, like food or a new couch.  Later we move on to complimenting people.

If you are European (especially German) and you are having breakfast/lunch/dinner with an American at a Starbucks’, McDonalds’, Olive Garden, Italian Osteria, or High-end French Bistro sooner or later your America friend will ask you:

“How do you like the food.”

“Okay” you will say or “It’s fine” thinking you just expressed your pleasure and appreciation in glowing terms.  Not so, “okay” and “fine” pretty much translate to “terrible”, or  “barely edible”.   See, in the US  you have to lay it on a little thicker.  Everything is bigger here and so are the compliments.  At the least you should say something like “this is great”, “I love it” or “this is really nice/awesome”.  If you really like the food you might take it up another notch – especially in the high-end French Bistro with your friend/business partner picking up the tap – and say something like “this is terrific/absolutely fantastic food.  I really do enjoy it a lot.  I am so glad you brought me here.”

"Okay" is never an appropriate answer when asked "How is dinner?"

The same applies to that new couch/piece of art/outdoor grill your friend/business partner shows you proudly.  A “how nice” won’t suffice.  The owner of the couch/piece of art/outdoor grill will be convinced you absolutely hate the piece.  A loud and heart-felt “this is gorgeous”  and “It is goes wonderfully with the room/wall color/etc.  You have such great taste (couch/piece of art) or “dude, that is so cool” (outdoor grill, generally guy stuff)  is the least you’ll have to do.

Feels insincere, overdone?  It did to me at first – but you’ll get used to it and soon you be saying things like “oh my God, this is absolutely fantastic” all the time.  Promise!

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