To Tell or Not to Tell?

Someone in my office told me a great story today! She said that one day when I was walking out, someone in our office said that I was really looking good and asked what I had been doing. When she told him that she was going to tell me, he said not to use his name because he didn’t want to get busted for sexual harassment on the job.

I hope whoever said that did so tongue-in-cheek, but it brings up a question: when you notice that someone has lost weight, do you say something to them or just leave it alone?

In my experience of late, there are two distinct camps:

  1. The supportive folks who not only say something, but generally say it with enthusiasm.
  2. The people who notice, but for whatever reason, don’t say a thing.

Traci and I talked about this on Tuesday. She said that some people – generally women – get offended when people compliment them on how much weight they have lost. Their mindset is something to the effect “well, I didn’t know I looked so fat before.”

That is NOT my mindset. I know what I weighed and looked like before, and I suspect it was no secret that I had a weight problem. When someone mentions my weight loss and compliments me on it, I really appreciate it, especially if it’s been an especially tough day.

On hearing that I had lost nearly 45 lbs., my friend, Scott said, “Well, I noticed and I heard the folks at the gym mention it, but I didn’t know whether to say anything or not, so I just didn’t say anything.”

And at my recent APWA meeting in Kansas City, several people very publicly commented on my loss and really made over me. There were others, including one women, who quietly took me aside and mentioned it. Interestingly, she was someone who used to be 75 lbs. heavier.

So I’m curious, which camp are you in? If you notice that a co-worker loses weigh, do you say anything or do you remain politely quiet? And if you’re someone who is losing and/or has lost weight, do you like when people compliment you or would you rather folks just go about their business?

In closing, while I appreciate the compliments, I don’t always feel so comfortable giving them. In the last year, I saw an old political colleague who had lost a lot of weight. He looked quite thin, and I wondered if perhaps he was ill. So while we exchange pleasantries, I didn’t say a thing about his weight loss.

3 Comments
  1. I think it all depends on your relationship with the person. We live in a world that allows and seems to encorage lawsuits for every trivial infraction. I think some people are hesistant to commest lest they offend someone or get sued for sexual harassment. I base my decision to comment on matters of a personal nature on my relationship with each person, male or female. Personally? I love when people notice if I have made a change for the better. Comment away!
    Jill Columbia, SC

  2. I think most people, including me, love the compliments, but unless I know someone well, and/or they let the public know what they’re up to (per your blog), I’m hesitant to say anything. I remember years ago when a man I worked with lost weight so rapidly that the rumor went around that he had cancer. Thankfully, it wasn’t true, and I actually saw him last month after at least 20 years, and he was still in great shape!

  3. I tell people they look good when I notice they look good… I’m not that specific about it because I don’t like the feeling that people are weighing me when I’m bigger or smaller even though they do notice, we all do to some extent. I might say, “That’s totally your color!” or something else nonsexual, “I love those shoes!”! Sometimes I just comment on how their smile made my day or their voice should be on radio… I like saying nice stuff to strangers and when they say nice nonsexual things to me…

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