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如何接受赞美?

更新时间:2018-5-26 8:25:52 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How to Accept a Compliment
如何接受赞美?

Alone in my office one afternoon, I unpeeled the wrapper from a square of chocolate with a deliberate curiosity not associated with office snacking. As the minty candy dissolved in my mouth, I read the words printed inside the wrapper: “Accept a compliment.”

一天下午,我一个人在办公室里,带着刻意的好奇打开一块巧克力包装纸,这种好奇和办公室茶点完全没有关系。薄荷味的糖果在嘴里融化时,我看见印在包装纸里的字:“接受一个赞美。”

I would normally not say yes to suggestions from strangers who work in what I assume is the marketing department of Dove Chocolate, Promises Division. But they aren’t alone in their advice. “Ladies, why the heck can’t we take a compliment?” a Prevention writer asked in a January headline. The message: C’mon women. Quit being apologists. Fully accept the compliments you deserve — without any self-deprecation or changing of the subject.

我通常不会接受陌生人的建议。我猜这个建议来自德芙巧克力市场部“承诺组”的工作人员。不过,提出这个建议的不是只有他们。“女士们,我们为什么不能接受赞美呢?”1月份《预防》(Prevention)杂志的一篇文章标题这样问道。它的意思是:拜托,女士们。不要再有歉意了。完全接受你应得的赞美——不要再自我贬低或改变话题。

Until this point, I would have responded to a compliment — say, on my hair — with half acknowledgment and half distraction. “Thanks, but [acknowledge recent struggle with hair or hairdresser]. Ha ha ha.” Doing so restored order. But while a simple “Thank you” was not my style, I decided to try it.

在那之前,我对赞美的回应方式一半是承认,一半是转移注意力。比如对我头发的赞美。“谢谢,但是……(承认自己最近在跟头发或发型师斗争)。哈哈哈。”这样做能恢复秩序。不过,虽然简单的一句“谢谢”不是我的风格,但我还是决定试一试。

Walking home from work, I approached a neighbor on a ribbon of sidewalk that passes for Main Street in our Wisconsin town. I smiled and waved as we neared each other. Caren smiled and waved back and when I was within earshot, she shouted, “I like your dress!”

我步行下班回家,在我住的威斯康星镇通往主街的狭窄人行道上,迎面走来了一位邻居。我们走近时,我微笑着向她招手。卡伦(Caren)也微笑着向我招手,走到能听见对方说话的距离时,她喊道:“我喜欢你的裙子!”

I assumed this was an easy audition for the New and Improved Way to Accept Compliments and simply said, “Thank you.”

我认为这是一个轻松的机会,可以尝试以更新、更好的方式接受赞美,于是简单地答道,“谢谢你。”

A short pause followed. It was so deeply still and awkward that had our entire exchange been filmed and replayed, a viewer might reasonably think the video had paused.

随后我们之间出现了短暂的停顿。特别安静、尴尬。如果我们的整个交流过程被拍下来回放的话,观众完全有理由认为视频卡住了。

When we reanimated, Caren’s eyes acquired a hard look. “It’s appropriate,” she said. “I like when people dress appropriately.”

我们又动起来的时候,卡伦露出为难的神色。“它挺得体的,”她说,“我喜欢人们穿着得体。”

“Oh. Ummm. Ugh,” I sputtered and continued my walk home, embarrassed. What had I missed by failing to add a remark about how old or inexpensive my dress was?

“哦。嗯。呃,”我结结巴巴地说。然后,我尴尬地继续往家里走。我没能补充说我的裙子其实穿了好多年,而且也不贵。我因此错过了什么?

The answer: a coded linguistic invitation.

答案是:一种语言邀请密码。

Up until that candy wrapper advice — and my social faux pas — I hadn’t given much thought to the purpose of compliments, but others certainly had. In recent years, compliments and our reactions to them have been placed under a microscope.

在看到糖果包装纸的建议以及我的那次社交失礼之前,我没有深思过赞美的目的,但肯定有人研究过。近年来,赞美以及我们对赞美的反应被置于显微镜下研究。

A 2012 study by Japanese researchers suggested that compliments help people to learn and perform new skills. The same researchers equated receiving compliments with receiving cash; both light up the reward system of our brain, the striatum. A 2017 study conducted in Switzerland equated receiving compliments with sex; both excited our brain’s reward system and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, which heads up social decision making.

日本研究人员2012年的一项研究表明,赞美有助于人们学习和表演新技能。同一批研究人员还将接受赞美同接受现金相比较,二者都点亮了我们大脑的奖励系统——纹状体。2017年在瑞士进行的一项研究认为接受赞美和性爱是一样的,二者都刺激了我们大脑的奖励系统,以及负责社交决策的腹内侧前额叶皮层。

Pop psychologists and bloggers on the topic have been eager to offer advice — often, specifically to women. — A 2004 Psychology Today article was adamant that the only proper way to accept a compliment was “graciously and with a smile” and warned the heedless female reader about the social perils of discounting a compliment in any manner typical of women. “Such answers suck the positivity out of the air and deflate the donor,” it read. In 2015, a Bustle writer offered “7 Tips for Accepting Compliments,” based on the view that “the idea of the human female as meek, humble, shy, and retiring is all very well if you’re a 13th century nun, but it’s hamstringing us radically in the 21st century — and running away from compliments is a symptom.”

流行心理学家和博主们一直热衷于就这个话题提供建议,往往尤其针对女性。《今日心理学》(Psychology Today)2004年的一篇文章坚定地认为,接受赞美的唯一正确方法是“优雅地微笑”,并警告那些漫不经心的女性读者,以任何女性的典型方式轻视恭维可能会带来社交风险。“这样的回答会吸走正能量,令恭维者泄气,”它写道。2015年,《Bustle》在线杂志的一位作者提出了“接受赞美的七个小贴士”,它依据的是这样的观点:“如果你是生活在13世纪的修女,那么,你可以认为人类女性是温顺、谦虚、害羞、退让的,但在21世纪,这种观点从根本上残害我们,逃离赞美是一种病。”

But even longer ago, in the ’70s and ’80s, the compliment was poked and prodded by sociolinguistic experts. This robust body of research is still being used today at the University of Minnesota to teach adult English as a Second Language students the American way of accepting compliments.

不过,甚至在更久之前,在上世纪七八十年代,社会语言学家已经在研究赞美。明尼苏达大学(University of Minnesota)仍在用这项充满活力的研究向以英语为第二语言的成人传授美国人接受赞美的方式。

According to experts at the university’s Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, two thirds of the time, Americans respond to compliments with something other than, or in addition to, “Thank you.” We shift credit (“My mom picked this dress out for me.”), make a historical comment (“I bought it on sale.”), question the complimenter (“Hmm, you think so?”) or lob back a compliment (“I like your outfit, too.”). Other times we downgrade the compliment (“This thing is so old I was about to give it to Goodwill.”), reject it outright (“I feel like I look like a hobo.”) or treat the compliment as a request (“You want to borrow it?”).

据该大学语言习得高级研究中心的专家称,美国人在回应赞美的时候,有三分之二的时间不说“谢谢”——或者会在说谢谢之外附加其他的话。我们会转移功劳(“这条裙子是妈妈帮我选的。”);描述历史(“我在打折时买的。”);反问赞美者(“唔,你这么觉得吗?”)或者是抛回一句赞美(“我也喜欢你的外套。”)。还有的时候,我们会弱化赞美(“这东西太旧了,我都打算捐给慈善机构了。”),回绝赞美(“感觉我看着就像个流浪汉。”)或者把赞美当做要求(“你想借用吗?”)。

In other words, in the United States, the compliment is a coded invitation to chitchat, and simply saying, “Thank you” linguistically slams the door in the complimenter’s face.

换句话说,在美国,赞美是闲聊的秘密邀请函,如果只是简答回答一句口头上的“谢谢”,就是当着赞美者的面关上了这扇门。

“It’s a platitude that language opens doors,” said Andrew Cohen, a professor emeritus of second language studies at University of Minnesota and who was instrumental in developing the language acquisition research center.

“老话总说,语言能打开大门,”明尼苏达大学(University of Minnesota)第二语言研究的荣誉退休教授安德鲁·科恩(Andrew Cohen)说,他在语言习得研究中心的发展中发挥过重要作用。

Don’t I know it. In trying out the supposed right way for a woman to accept a compliment, I learned what such pleasant commentary really signals for Americans of all genders: connection and conversation I have since shamelessly returned to my previous ways, which is to add a little P.S. or a bit of resistance after saying “Thank you.” To do otherwise would be to miss the big point of small talk.

我不懂吗?在试验女性接受赞美的正确方法这一过程中,我学到了对于各种性别的美国人来说,令人愉快的赞美真正的意义就在于沟通和交谈。此后我又毫不愧疚地回到了之前的方式,那就是在说完“谢谢”之后再多说几句,或者表现出一点抗拒。要是不这么做,就会错过重要的闲聊了。

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