A few years ago I decided to try an experiment with some of my relationships with other men. What would happen if instead of relating with the same locker-room banter of jokingly cutting each other down and teasing, I instead interacted primarily on the basis of compliments?
I coined the term manplimenting to describe the rare beast of the genuine, totally Platonic compliment from one man to another.
They look like this, in case you’ve never witnessed a manpliment:
“The cut of that shirt is exceptional for you, is that tailored?”
“Great shoes man.”
“You’re looking big. Have you been putting on size?”
— Bryan Krahn (@BryanKrahn) January 13, 2015
If you can’t imagine yourself saying these things as a straight man you need to calm down and realize that a genuine compliment doesn’t make you gay, your sexuality does. Got that?
Men learn early on that teasing can be a way to create camaraderie, bond, and solidify friendships as well as something that can be used to create intense pain when used maliciously. But sociologists who’ve studied the use of language in relationships have noted that there is a complex calculus going on as to whether or not a tease or a joke will solidify a bond or be interpreted as an insult.
“Even when the tease was not intended to be hurtful, it still has the potential to be face threatening, since the tease may call attention to some feature of the target, e.g., appearance or behavior that is embarrassing.” (S. Beck et. al)
More importantly, I’d argue that regardless of the outcome, objectively no one feels as good from a tease as they do from hearing a genuine compliment.
Knowing that you’re part of a group or that you’re liked by someone enough to be teased is satisfying, but getting a meaningful compliment always feels better.
So a few years ago I started this experiment in which I tried to fundamentally base some of my new friendships with other men on manpliments.
And the difference is remarkable.
These friendships are more enjoyable, more productive, and more satisfying than other relationships that are based more on the traditional type of male interaction with teasing.
Interestingly, some studies have shown than European men tend to interact more like American women in the sense that there is more complimenting and less teasing. Do European men have richer more meaningful relationships? In my experience, yep.
Giving (and receiving) compliments regardless of gender involves paying attention, reflecting, and communicating which are all skills that can’t hurt to improve and are emotional skills that men often sorely lack.
(My good friend John Romaniello and I will be hosting an event exclusively for men in mid-September of this year called Man Camp that will explore topics such as this one in depth. If the idea of improving your life – whether it be through health, fitness, relationships, business or income, or networking – then Man Camp is something you should check out.)