If someone uses these 9 phrases in a conversation, they’re fishing for compliments

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We all know that person, right? The one who tosses out comments and questions, just waiting for you to shower them with praise. It’s called fishing for compliments.

There’s a fine line between genuine self-doubt and a calculated pull for flattery. The latter can often feel insincere and frustrating to the listener.

As someone who has been on both sides of the conversation, I’ve picked up on certain phrases that people often use when they’re angling for a compliment.

Check out these nine phrases. If they pop up in conversation, chances are, someone’s fishing for compliments.

1) “I’m no expert, but…”

We’ve all heard this one before, right? Someone starts off a conversation by downplaying their knowledge or abilities in a certain area.

The thing is, this phrase is often a lead-in to an opinion or insight that the person fully believes in and is confident about. They’re just adding a little self-deprecation to make it seem like they’re not bragging.

It’s a subtle way of fishing for compliments. The hope is that you’ll jump in and reassure them of their expertise or skills.

Watch out for this phrase. If it crops up in your conversations, you might be dealing with a compliment fisher.

Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with giving compliments. But it’s always better when they’re genuine and not prompted by these sorts of tactics.

2) “I really messed up this time…”

Okay, let me share a personal example here. A while ago, a friend of mine made a mistake at work. Nothing major, but she was beating herself up about it.

She kept saying, “I really messed up this time…”. And every time she said it, I found myself reassuring her that it wasn’t a big deal and that everyone makes mistakes.

Then I realized – she was fishing for compliments. By focusing on her error and exaggerating its impact, she was prompting me to counter her negativity with positive affirmations.

Next time you hear someone continually emphasizing their own faults or failures, they might be angling for some compliments. It’s a common tactic that’s worth being aware of.

3) “I never get anything right…”

When someone consistently highlights their shortcomings or failures, it can often be a cry for reassurance. This self-deprecating phrase is a classic example.

The speaker isn’t usually seeking confirmation of their perceived incompetence. Rather, they’re hoping for the listener to contradict them, providing a much-needed boost to their self-esteem.

In fact, according to psychological studies, people with low self-esteem often use fishing for compliments as a coping mechanism. They seek external validation as a way to combat their internal self-doubt.

Whenever someone drops this phrase, remember that the person might be fishing for compliments, and could also be dealing with deeper self-esteem issues.

4) “I look terrible today…”

This phrase is a classic in the compliment-fishing world. It’s often thrown into a conversation casually, almost as if it’s an afterthought.

But here’s the catch – it’s usually said by someone who knows they look pretty good that day. They’re just hoping you’ll jump in and reassure them that they look great.

When you hear this phrase, it’s a pretty clear sign that someone might be fishing for compliments. So go ahead and give them one if you feel like it. But remember, it’s also okay to just let the comment slide.

5) “I can’t do anything right…”

Ever been in a conversation where the other person keeps undermining their own abilities? They might say something like “I can’t do anything right…” or “I always mess things up…”.

Often, this isn’t a sign of genuine self-doubt. Instead, it’s a subtle way of prompting you to contradict them and offer some kind words.

It’s another phrase that people often use when they’re fishing for compliments. So next time you hear it, be aware that the person might just be looking for a confidence boost.

6) “I don’t think anyone likes me…”

This is one of those phrases that can really tug at your heartstrings. When someone says, “I don’t think anyone likes me…”, it can be hard not to jump in and reassure them of their likability.

But it’s also a phrase that people often use when they’re fishing for compliments. They’re hoping you’ll contradict them, telling them how much you and others appreciate them.

Remember, it’s always good to spread positivity and make people feel valued. But it’s also important to recognize when someone might be seeking compliments rather than expressing genuine feelings of loneliness or rejection.

7) “I’m probably the last person you’d want to hang out with…”

A few years back, I had a friend who would constantly say this. It was always said in a joking manner, but after a while, I started to see a pattern. Every time he said it, he was expecting me to contradict him, reassuring him of his worth as a friend.

It’s another phrase that can indicate someone is fishing for compliments. They put themselves down, hoping you’ll lift them back up with your reassuring words.

If you hear this phrase often, know that the speaker might just be seeking some validation or assurance of their worth.

8) “I’m sure you’re just saying that to be nice…”

Now, this one’s a bit tricky. It’s a phrase that can come across as humble or self-effacing, but it’s often used when someone is fishing for compliments.

The person is essentially questioning the sincerity of your compliment, hoping that you’ll confirm it and maybe even add a few more kind words.

So, next time someone responds to your compliment with this phrase, keep in mind that they might just be fishing for a bit more praise.

9) “I guess I’m just not cut out for this…”

This one is often a big red flag. When someone says, “I guess I’m just not cut out for this…”, they’re usually hoping you’ll contradict them and assure them of their capabilities.

Keep in mind that genuine self-doubt can be a serious issue, and it’s important to support those who are struggling. But it’s also good to recognize when someone might be fishing for compliments, so you can respond in a way that is both sincere and supportive.

Final thoughts: It’s about empathy

Understanding human behavior is a complex task, and it often boils down to empathy.

When it comes to fishing for compliments, it’s important to remember that we all seek validation and reassurance in different ways. Some might use self-deprecating language or express doubt in their abilities as a way to seek affirmation from others.

These phrases, while sometimes manipulative, can also be a sign of underlying insecurities or low self-esteem. They serve as reminders that everyone needs a little boost now and then.

After all, at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to navigate this complicated thing called life.

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Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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9 clever phrases to put a covert manipulator on the defensive