Responding To Backhanded Compliments Is Not Tricky Anymore! Find Out How

Last Update on November 22, 2022 : Published on November 23, 2022

We’ve all been there when an acquaintance has given us a “backhanded compliment”. I mean, everyone is guilty of giving them or receiving them, but we’ve all been there. And let me be the one to admit that backhanded compliments, disguised as fun and sweet remarks, are the worst, and they put me in an uncomfortable position.

I’m sure the same is true for you. It’s important to have people around who can be honest with you but when that honesty is disguised as fake compliments or criticism, it can do more harm than good.

More often than not, backhanded compliments are said to reflect the speaker’s insecurities and weaknesses, but even then it does not make the receiver hurt less. Backhanded and fake compliments might not seem harmful, but they can severely damage your relationships.

Below, I’ve listed 5 amazing ways how you can respond to backhanded compliments. But first, let’s take a look at some of the most common backhanded compliments examples.

What Are Backhanded Compliments?

Backhanded compliments are not compliments but poorly disguised insults and criticism covered with sweet words and remarks. More often than not, a backhanded compliment will carry along with it some or the other insecurity of the speaker.

However, not all backhanded compliments are mean or rude. Some of them can stem from ignorance as well, so here is how you can recognize a backhanded compliment;

  • Is what’s spoken appropriate for the moment or even needed?
  • Is the comment worth giving a response to?

Unlike genuine praise and appreciation, a backhanded or underhanded compliment can be described as a person’s critical opinion.

Examples Of Backhanded Compliments 

  • I love how you just don’t care what anyone thinks of you.
  • Congratulations! I didn’t expect that you’d get the job.
  • You look so pretty but you’ll look even more if you lost some weight.
  • You look so beautiful in that picture, I almost couldn’t recognize you!
  • You’re so independent, no wonder you don’t need a partner.
  • I wish I could also not care about the messiness.
  • You’re coping with this so well. Better than I thought you would.
  • You look so refreshed today.
  • You’re such an amazing person. I don’t get why you haven’t found a partner.

If the compliment or remark makes you question yourself or the intent behind the words, then it could be a backhanded compliment.

How To Respond To A Backhanded Compliment?

While the speaker might not have the intention to hurt you, backhanded compliments can do just that. If you’re often on the receiving end of backhanded compliments, here’s how you can respond to them;

1. Ignore Them

If you ignore the compliment, it does not mean that you’re being a pushover. Ignoring and not responding to fake compliments can help send a message that the opinion of the other person does not hold much value. Also, by ignoring the compliment, you avoid all possible arguments.

It’s also a good idea to ignore when the other person is goading you into reacting the same way or wanting your attention. Try to not take the bait.

2. Say Thanks And Move On

You don’t need to answer with justification when someone makes a backhanded compliment. So instead of letting the fake compliment get on your nerves, just respond with a “thank you” and move on. Letting yourself overthink about the hurtful comment, a “thanks” can be your savior.

This is also a good way to respond to a backhanded compliment when the said compliment is made out of ignorance. Just reply with a “thank you” and let go.

3. Acknowledge The Positive Part Only

There are two types of responses; criticism and feedback. Both these responses can help you improve your well-being but when criticism is disguised as feedback, then it is not helpful. Here, you can only acknowledge the positive feedback and ignore the criticism. Acknowledging the passive-aggressive backhanded compliment isn’t worth it.

You can use this kind of response when someone says something where feedback and criticism are both intended. Just acknowledge the feedback and ignore the rest.

4. Question The Insult

Backhanded compliments can damage relationships, and if you’re scared of losing your relationships because of criticism, question the insult with the speaker. Not doing this can only encourage fake compliments and sarcastic comments. If you want to avoid all that, just speak up.

When someone says something where a compliment is there but with a continuation of criticism, just say “thanks” to the compliment but speak your feelings about the criticism.

5. Respond With Humor

Sometimes, the best way to respond to a backhanded compliment is to laugh it off. Don’t take the fake compliment too seriously. Sometimes, the speaker might be doing so to hurt you on purpose or might not know how to confront their insecurities. During that time, you can respond with a little humor and let it go.

So when someone gives you a backhanded compliment, respond with a dash of humor, avoid any snarky comments, and then let go. If you’re comfortable with it, then you can confront the person some other time about the comment they made.

Backhanded compliments are never genuine praise or appreciation and often stem from the speaker’s insecurities. If you’re uncomfortable receiving backhanded compliments, then you can try any of the above ways to respond to a passive-aggressive backhanded compliment.

Keep in mind that backhanded compliments are just a way of giving criticism. I hope this article helped you learn how to respond to backhanded compliments. For more, you can write to us at or DM us on social media.

You can also share your tips and thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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