How should one go about complementing an arrogant person? Must one hold back complements if there is a risk of feeding their pride? Thoughts…

I find that careful wording helps. I tend to thank rather than compliment, so I am directing my positive feedback at a direct action. If it’s a compliment about appearance, I’ll mention a specific item of clothing, way of doing hair, etc.

With people who don’t have narcissistic or arrogant tendencies, I’m a lot less careful. But for people who do, I find that if I’m sloppy in my wording or praise too generally, there can be a tendency for them to add in their mind, “I am better at this than she is” or “I have this and she doesn’t” and they use that to justify poor behavior.


If the person has done particularly something nice for you, I think it’s particularly safe to be lavish with thanks and praise.

Compliment them like you would anyone else? What they do with the compliments are none of your concern. Additionally, the person you find to be arrogant may be truly insecure in private.

I can’t recall a single arrogant person I have encountered who wasn’t either mentally incompetent (I work in health care), or secretly very insecure (newbie residents or men with Napoleon complexes). I agree with treating them with thanks and compliments the same way you would any other person. When you react negatively, they internalize the negative way they view themselves. When you treat them as you’d treat anyone, you are sending a message that they are just as good but no better than their neighbor.

Be sincere.

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