Is it silly to complain about being praised all the time?

  • #1
Eclair_de_XII
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I have this friend who praises my intelligence sometimes. She always talks about how I'm "really smart" because I get good grades in college. Whenever she praises me, I cannot help but groan silently, because the main reason that I get good grades is because I don't take that many classes per semester. I take an average of three classes per semester, less than half of what most people take in a semester. I do this in order to find time to work at my job, in addition to stave off student debt which I have managed to avoid in all my years of going to college by taking my time in school and going to work at the same time.

All the same, I can think of other people who both work more hours than me and take more classes than I do. So I know without a doubt that I do not work as hard as other people. So even though I get good grades in all these classes, it doesn't really mean much, considering I needn't spread my focus to as many classes as my peers. I'm really not that smart compared to others. So when people disagree with me, it just irks me a little bit because I know I don't deserve this praise.

I mean, I haven't taken many hard classes in my whole academic career. I just take whatever is available in a semester, in an effort to maximize the number of hours I can do at work. I mean, other than the fact that for the past two years, I had been putting a somewhat large emphasis on taking lots of probability and/or statistics courses, as opposed to the various analysis courses, number theory, topology, and abstract algebra courses that my friend has told me she has taken.

Anyway, she still has the gall to call me smart even though I haven't taken her class-load. We have been in the same class just three times in all my years of going to college. Once, during proof-writing class, another time during vector analysis, and another time for this mandatory senior seminar for math students. I mean, I guess I got good grades in the first two classes I had with her, but there was always somebody better than me in both of those classes, so my good grades don't really mean much. And for that vector analysis course, my professor told me himself that I got an eighty-percent in the final exam after I had asked him the following semester if I had bombed it. So my performance isn't exactly exemplary.

These grades really don't mean anything important, especially since I never had any plans to attend graduate school. I'm tired of school. I would not be able to get a professor to write up a letter of recommendation for me because I never had any nerve to talk to many of my classmates in my academic career, let alone any professors. I also lack the math courses necessary for some math graduate programs. I only found out about the last thing because she told me. It genuinely annoys me every time somebody asks me if I'm going to graduate school. It for some reason feels like I'm being praised unnecessarily, which is why I hate it.

In any case, am I justified in being annoyed every time someone praises my intelligence?
 
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  • #2
symbolipoint
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I have this friend who praises my intelligence sometimes. She always talks about how I'm "really smart" because I get good grades in college. Whenever she praises me, I cannot help but groan silently, because the main reason that I get good grades is because I don't take that many classes per semester. I take an average of three classes per semester, less than half of what most people take in a semester. I do this in order to find time to work at my job, in addition to stave off student debt which I have managed to avoid in all my years of going to college by taking my time in school and going to work at the same time.
Hi, Eclair_de_XII,
I did not read the rest of the post yet, but so far according the above quoted description, you are really very smart.
 
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  • #3
symbolipoint
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In any case, am I justified in being annoyed every time someone praises my intelligence?
Yes, you are justified, IF you believe the praise is excessive. I will not try to explain what is or is not excessive; I will let you decide.
 
  • #4
russ_watters
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I have this friend who praises my intelligence sometimes. She always talks about how I'm "really smart" because I get good grades in college. Whenever she praises me, I cannot help but groan silently, because the main reason that I get good grades is because I don't take that many classes per semester...

In any case, am I justified in being annoyed every time someone praises my intelligence?
You described why you don't think you are especially intelligent, but you didn't explain why it annoys you to be complimented for being intelligent. Why can't you just accept a sincere compliment from someone who likes you and be happy about it?
Yes, you are justified, IF you believe the praise is excessive.
Why? I could see being justified if the praise is insincere, but I don't see why getting a sincere compliment one doesn't think they deserve justifies being annoyed.
 
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  • #5
symbolipoint
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Yes, you are justified, IF you believe the praise is excessive. I will not try to explain what is or is not excessive; I will let you decide.

Why? I could see being justified if the praise is insincere, but I don't see why getting a sincere compliment one doesn't think they deserve justifies being annoyed.
Because the praise may be excessive and even if meant honestly, may be wrong. I do not know o.p. actual details. Only he does so only he can decide.

I will tell you this:
I become irritated when someone praises ME about my so-called intelligence & achievements(I should add, 'especially when it is excessive'.). I have become increasingly aware of how little they are compared to other peoples' and so I recognize how WRONG the praise is which some people give me.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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Because the praise may be excessive and even if meant honestly, may be wrong. I do not know o.p. actual details. Only he does so only he can decide.

I will tell you this:
I become irritated when someone praises ME about my so-called intelligence & achievements(I should add, 'especially when it is excessive'.). I have become increasingly aware of how little they are compared to other peoples' and so I recognize how WRONG the praise is which some people give me.
But again, why? You're just saying why it is unjustified, not why it is irritating. Why is it annoying and not pleasing to receive an unjustified compliment? It's still a compliment! It's still an inherent positive, isn't it? Is finding a dollar on the floor annoying or pleasing?

If [I think] someone is intentionally trying to cause me harm, I feel negatively about it. If [I think] someone is trying to give me pleasure, but misses the mark, unless what they did is inherently painful, I'll still be happy about it. It really is the thought that counts, to me. I don't understand why someone trying to be nice to you should cause you negative feelings, even if the attempt misses the mark.

...and this is even assuming the comment is unjustified in its issue, not just in its receipt (or both). Maybe he's smarter than her, which makes the compliment justified based on the relative difference: "You're really smart [relative to me]." If that's what she means, then he actually has to change the meaning of what she's telling him in order to feel bad about it.
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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But again, why? You're just saying why it is unjustified, not why it is irritating. Why is it annoying and not pleasing to receive an unjustified compliment? It's still a compliment! It's still an inherent positive, isn't it? Is finding a dollar on the floor annoying or pleasing?

and two more important paragraphs...
.

Currently my best response is that some people innately understand why and some other people do not.

Some of my own internal personal reaction to it is based on my own academic struggles to pass some very hard (for me) science and mathematics courses; as well as other tough experiences.
 
  • #8
Eclair_de_XII
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Yes, you are justified, IF you believe the praise is excessive. I will not try to explain what is or is not excessive; I will let you decide.

It is not so much an issue of praise being excessive, but thoroughly undeserved. She's way smarter than me, in my opinion.

You described why you don't think you are especially intelligent, but you didn't explain why it annoys you to be complimented for being intelligent.

Because I don't deserve being complimented for being intelligent if I know that I am not that intelligent at all.
 
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  • #9
russ_watters
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Currently my best response is that some people innately understand why and some other people do not.

Some of my own internal personal reaction to it is based on my own academic struggles to pass some very hard (for me) science and mathematics courses; as well as other tough experiences.
Ok, well here's what I think it is:

Counterexample:
A: You have beautiful eyes!
B: Thanks! The left one's made of glass...

Negatives are hurtful, positives are pleasing. The logic behind feelings is as simple as that. So in my opinion, for this inherent positive to invoke a negative feeling, it must connect with something negative in the person receiving the compliment. So my question really is; what is the negative that it is being connected to?

In the above example, the positive pokes at a negative unknown to person A. The eye isn't what person A thought it was, and for person B it probably evokes negative feelings about whatever happened to the original eye.

So, what I think is happening here is that the inherently positive compliment is triggering a negative personal feeling; probably negative feelings about self-worth. It's entirely internal - and backwards - and not the fault of the person giving the compliment.

So my opinion is that the OP should not blame a friendly person for their own insecurity, and should instead seek to try to fix that insecurity.
 
  • #10
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It is not so much an issue of praise being excessive, but thoroughly undeserved. She's way smarter than me, in my opinion.
Maybe she's hittin' on ya.
 
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  • #11
Eclair_de_XII
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She's married with elementary-grade kids, just to be clear.
 
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  • #12
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So my opinion is that the OP should not blame a friendly person for their own insecurity, and should instead seek to try to fix that insecurity.
This...
 
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  • #13
russ_watters
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Because I don't deserve being complimented for being intelligent if I know that I am not that intelligent at all.
But that's about you, not about her. She gave you what is as far as you know, an honest opinion, intended to please you. You don't agree. That's not her fault, it's yours.

[edit]

Heck, she might even be giving you the compliment because she recognizes your insecurity and is trying to snap you out of it. Unfortunately it is backfiring, and ironically what might be needed is a negative to counter-act the negative: instead of giving you a compliment that you don't want to hear, maybe she should be telling you that she thinks you have an emotional problem. That's hard, and there's downside (you might get mad at her for such an obvious negative comment). I'm not burdened by a relationship with you, though, so I'll say it:

Your reaction is backwards and I think you should consider discussing this with a psychologist...

...or if she really is a good friend, having an open and honest conversation with her about it.
 
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  • #14
StatGuy2000
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@Eclair_de_XII If you don't mind my asking, are you of East Asian descent (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese -- I know your profile specifies that you are from Hawaii)? And is the friend of yours who is praising you of East Asian descent herself?

To the rest of you on this thread: I ask this question because how praise is received differs culturally, in particular between those of Western (e.g. European) descent and those who are brought up in an Asian culture (I am half-Japanese, and so am aware first-hand about these differences).
 
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  • #15
nuuskur
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It's a compliment. They admire your abilities. Don't let it get to your head, you'll be fine.

I don't understand why you are actually being annoyed by it. There's conversation, engage in it. I am constantly reminded I'm a genius or super smart (which I'm not), because I can help a handful of undergrad students with their assignments from time to time. It's a compliment, they appreciate my help, don't have to read further into it than that. It's much easier to teach, too, if your work is appreciated, wouldn't you say? :)
 
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  • #16
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Maybe she's hittin' on ya.

She's married with elementary-grade kids, just to be clear.
That's not always a deterrent...
 

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