My compliments are remarkably offensive
It shouldn't surprise you to know that I (a Computer Scientist) lack some of the most basic social skills. One of the most damaging of these is my inability to compliment people. But it gets worse. Not only am I incapable of providing praise, I actually unintentionally offend people. Now I’m not talking about providing compliments where they aren't due. Although one member of the congregation at my church rather astutely pointed out during a sermon on falsehood that that skill is also particularly handy, especially, when “your daughter starts learning the violin”. No I’m talking about providing deserved recognition. For example, after a lovely meal at someone’s house the following dialogue took place:
Me: Thank you for the meal!
Host: I hope you enjoyed it?
Me: Definitely! In fact, now I’m going to get the ready meal of it to enjoy it at home
*Shocked silence as the hosts absorb the fact that their four hours of cooking was considered equivalent to a ready-meal*
Me: (Having realised my mistake) Not just any ready meal! An M&S ready meal…..
I managed to escape that predicament by reminding them that I’m from Pakistan and over there ready meals are of much higher quality. In hindsight, I probably should have just asked for the recipe. However, there are times where I don’t know what I would've said in place of my apparent insult, for example:
Me: Oh you got a haircut!
Friend: Yea, Jack did it.
Me: (Perhaps too much surprise) He’s done well!
Now obviously I wasn't trying to say that his hair/face was such a mess that it wouldn't be easy to fix, but that it looked really nice! However, that didn't come through. My saving grace here was that I am from Pakistan and in Pakistan there was a high possibility that that would be perceived as a compliment. Occasionally I’m just trying to make the other person at ease/welcome around me (such as with new housemates). However I think you’ll agree that this wasn't made easy for me in this next scenario:
Me: (Genuinely interested) Sooooo, you joined any societies??
Housemate: You’ll laugh, but I've joined the pole dancing society.
Me: (Trying to be encouraging) Ah right! Yea I can see you doing that!
Me: (Having realised my mistake) No, no, I meant you’d be good at that!
Changed the subject to my upbringing in Pakistan. Definitely helped. Speaking of Pakistan, this last one is DEFINITELY not my fault, who knew that “Duck” is used affectionately in the UK?!
Me: So do you have any embarrassing nick names?
Girl: Well my friends up north sometimes call me duck *Giggles*
Me: (Without a hint of insincerity) Is that cause you look like a duck or sound like one?
Now I tried to play the Pakistan card, but as is usually the case with girls, I had already played it a few times so she wasn't having it. Thankfully she didn't slap me (and I never have been slapped by a girl before you ask…. Partly due to the Pakistan card).
So, to conclude, here’s a comic that pretty much sums up how bad I am at meeting people: