The Algebra Of A Compliment


I don't know what this means (Image via Wikipedia)

“Sir, I wasn’t thrilled about getting volun-told that I was going to this class. But I asked some people and they said if you were involved in it, it would be squared away. They were right, this was good training.

anonymity (sir) + reputation = esteem

where sir = rank × age

“This was a long class. But you were very funny this week, and I learned a lot. You’ve got a dry sense of humor, like that guy who used to play the boss on “The Office“.”

Value of this compliment = (i+b) ÷ c/s


i is the value I place on humor

b is the benefit of the humor to the learning experience

c is comparison to a comic actor on a very funny show

s is the percentage of the actor’s lines that are scripted

“Do you know who else has a sense of humor like you? My lieutenant, Lt. Bryan. I think you’re both funny. Hope to work with you again. Have a good day, sir.”

If the letter a represents my appreciation for your intended compliment and

∞ represents my lack of respect for Lt. Bryan

then you can calculate Δ, which represents the effort it took not to drive you from the room by grabbing the scruff of your neck:

a³/√∞ × 2 ± (dk) = Δ

where (dk) is the factor of you being a decent kid who was being very kind

And I thought I’d never use this algebra crap in real life.


34 Comments on “The Algebra Of A Compliment”

  1. Figuring for X, where Y = innovative and hilarious, you deserve those compliments, 110%.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Ouch. My head hurts now. But I don’t need algebra to prove you’re hilarious. I don’t need algebra for anything, it seems.

  3. Debbie says:

    Once I was pretty good at Algebra. Now I see figures and my eyes glaze over! Sounds like you were the recipient of some highly administered praise, though, and I’m sure it was well-deserved!

  4. Katybeth says:

    Does it all add up to the fact that they were not bored senseless in your class?

  5. Laura says:

    I think you analyzed the second one correctly, but that one is pretty complicated, since part of what made The Office so funny was the fact that the boss had a really terrible sense of humor.

  6. Very clever–and I think you’re on to something.

    When I was doing training the evaluations were more like, “Could you have made this any more boring?” Expressed algebraically:


    c is level of concern generated by negative compliment, r=rank of person delivering negative compliment and p=proximity of person to your boss.

  7. We Found Him Captain! says:

    As Charles De Gaulle said back in 1945 “la bien fait, mon fils!”

  8. Todd Pack says:

    The Lt. Bryan Conundrum: The cognitive dissonance that occurs when someone compares you favorably to someone you think is stupid and/or funny looking.

    • omawarisan says:

      Exactly. A similar conundrum occurs when someone you don’t like enjoys some of the same music as you.

      I considered getting rid of all my music by The Clash when the LT, in his pre promotion days recognized a song I was playing.

      • Todd Pack says:

        Something similar happened many years ago when a college girlfriend married a guy who wound up getting a shout out in the liner notes of one of my favorite band’s albums (and he wasn’t even in the music business). It’s like, “Oh, forget it. I switchin’ to country.”

  9. frigginloon says:

    Personally, I think you were square rooted 🙄

  10. Jane says:

    This is great! Now, if you could figure out a formula to determine the level of sincerity when the sales lady says: “Oh, that looks good on you.” Think of the hundreds of dollars you could save unsusupecting buyers. Pretty revolutionary.

  11. shoutabyss says:

    How you like them apples?

    So, yeah, it all seems straight forward, but I think you failed to compensate for the “Dementia Delta” over time. Hopefully you can see how it is increasing exponentially over time to the point that compliment has negligible effect.

  12. Amy says:

    That’s what she said!
    Sorry, I failed algebra.

  13. weid0089 says:

    I suck at algebra… is that why I suck at giving compliments?? Or do I suck giving compliments, because I suck at algebra?? I think it is clear here that I suck. Period.

  14. We Found Him Captain! says:

    The rank of Lt. has historically been looked down upon with distain by higher ranked officers and by subordinate non-coms alike. It takes too long to train a Lt. Most of them screw up badly and disappear well before they become eligible for promotion. Many of them don’t know the difference between a roll of toilet paper and a shower curtain. Thus the origin of ” We found him Captain”.

  15. Lenore Diane says:

    Oh my gosh – this was a living nightmare. Word problems coming back to haunt me with their variables, Xs and Ys. I applaud your ability to pull this off – incredibly impressive. But, I’ll be sleeping with the light on tonight.

  16. Blogdramedy says:

    I’m not good at maths in general but I liked the pretty picture! I did rock at geometry…all those crazy angles. Must be why I’m so good at pool, basketball and gold. All angle sports. 🙂

  17. Blogdramedy says:

    That will teach me to write comments on math-related blogs posts before having my coffee in the morning. I’m good at GOLF…not gold. If I was good at gold I wouldn’t be sitting here commenting on your blog. I’d be in a room somewhere counting… 😉

  18. […] The Algebra Of A Compliment […]

So, what's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s