How to compliment people and not get sued

Updated: April 4, 2015

What partially inspired me to write this article is the awesome SNL clip, titled Sexual Harassment and You, which explains all the little ins and outs of having relations with co-workers without getting sued. I will not spoil it for you, please take a look. Anyhow, how about we extend the message some? Of course, this is all fun and humor, so if you intend to get offended by the time you're done reading, go away, right now.

Once again, talking to my handful of friends who manage to balance their personal life with flair, I learnt there is a common theme to their escapades. Namely, they rather successfully navigate the perilous waters of political correctness while still being able to enjoy a nice dose of flirt. Hence, this guide. Let me teach you how you can be nice and courteous and still pay compliments to people around you without dreading the hovering blade of an imminent harassment complaint against you.


Note: Image taken from Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Choose where you live

In some countries, lawsuits are more popular. In others, not so. You will save yourself a lot of potential trouble just by moving into a different culture where certain things are less frowned upon. Sure, this might mean learning a new language, finding yourself a job overseas and whatnot, but it is doable. For instance, France is a very good choice, where the typical conversation distance between any two folks, even total strangers, is only about 25 cm apart. Even highly experienced international flirters will find it slightly uncomfortable talking to others at such intimate promixity, but hey, it tells you all about the possibilities!


Be extremely poor

When you are very poor, you have little to nothing to lose. Which means that people hanging around you will most likely be genuinely interested in your personality. Moreover, if you do happen to compliment someone and they do not like it, there will not be that much they can do to harm you. Take away your non-existent fortune?


Be extremely rich

If you have lots of money, there will always be someone trying to part you from it. Likewise, people you converse with will be looking for an angle to hook you, so that they may attempt to free some of thy quiche from thy hands. However, on the other hand, the more you have it, the more you can get away with. And sometimes, this means you will be forgiven a lot of things that other poor souls would not, just because there is an ever so remote chance that you might reward patient clingers and sycophants with monetary favors.

This works well especially with those who prefer less of a confrontational attitude. Rather than going head to head with your lawyers, and let's face it, if you're rich, you will be well protected, they might opt to just be nice, put up with your shenanigans, and hope to be included in your will when the time comes. A great example of how you can bend the rules to your liking is Charley Sheen. Sure, you might not have any real friends, but you will be winning. That has to count.

Winning 1

Be good looking

Yes, this really works well, and goes back to that SNL video. If you have the looks, you have more leeway in how you interact with your lawsuit-prone environment. Add the monetary side to it, and Bob's your uncle. But even if you stick with just basic aesthetics, that's good enough. Being complimented by good looking people means they have deigned to part with some of their own goodness and share it with you, hence their compliments count. Unlike compliments from bad looking people, which are considered stalking and weird.


Note: Image taken from Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Be indirect

Veering into the danger zone, this is specially true for women. They kind of like mystery and whatnot, so if you are all too straightforward and blunt, you kill some of the charm. Instead, you may want to phrase your compliment as a question. Did you change your hair is always a good one. This is also a perfectly legitimate and innocent way of being genuinely nice without any hidden agenda. You need not even don your perverticles anymore.

Hardon particles, firing

Hardon particles, smile

Cry a lot

If you compliment someone, and they do not like it, and you think you are going to have a visit from the HR representative, start crying right there. Tell a story how your puppy died and you needed a happy moment to cheer yourself up. Being a pathological liar or a psychopath helps at this point. Or a really good actor, but that probably means you will be having money, so see above.

Men crying

Note: Image, courtesy of

Only compliment those richer than you

This is a great way around the financial barrier. If you happen to be middle class, oh you poor sod, and you happen to be the chatty type, then limit your verbal expressions of joy to people who are richer than you. This means you will probably not get sued, because you're not worth the bother. Besides, if you flatter someone who expects it, then they won't hold a grudge against you, unless you're really creepy to the max.


Only compliment intelligent people

No matter how strong of an urge you might have to pay your local waitress a smarmy compliment, always remember that she might not appreciate your cubicle-nerd style of humor. Few do. Forever alone. You should limit your wit to those who might actually like it, or at the very least, not give a damn when you exercise it with all the grace of an elephant on LSD playing hopscotch in a mine field. In other words, if you are someone who considers themselves intelligent, and there's a good probability for this, since you are reading this article, then make sure the people you flirt with and toss your silly and geeky remarks in their general direction, have a) more than a double-digit IQ b) are as intelligent as you are or more. Because Princess Leia is not everyone's idea of fun, no matter how hard it is for you to believe that.

Star Wars nerdom

That's like totally not me in the Stormtrooper's suit and a Jedi friend being silly.


And here we are, at the end of this article, and blessedly lawsuit free! The modern society and its political correctness leave no margin for honesty, which is why you must adhere to a few simple yet tough rules that will keep you happy, fiscally sound, maybe, and still capable of enjoying conversations with other people plus compliments. It comes down to doling out your appreciation with flair.

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi? won't cut it anymore, unless you're filthy rich or stinking poor. So stick with like-minded people, try to live in a tolerant society, make sure you are extremely good looking, and shed an occasional tear when challenged, and you will be fine. I guess. This has to be one of the stupidest articles I have ever written, but who cares, I enjoyed it, perchance you will, as well.

P.S. Images of the Globus and Poor Jo are in public domain.