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28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 25 December 2012

Michael Rosen meets linguists, historians, students and sequence dancers to find out why the giving and receiving of compliments can be a complex and dangerous business. He meets language students in Cheltenham and sequence dancers in North London, who each have very different responses to people saying nice things to them. He talks to a personal development tutor and an etiquette coach about the do's and dont's of positive feedback. And he talks to the Swansea linguist studying why people feel uncomfortable with compliments. The difficulty is not the compliment, it's the response. How do you reply positively and politely without sounding arrogant? Michael discovers that our tendency towards post-modern irony makes a sincere compliment a difficult manoeuvre to complete - so even if you can say something nice, it may still be best to say nothing at all.

Producer: John Byrne.



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