Beware of Fishing for Compliments—You Might Come Up with a Boot

Carol Weston? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Displaying false modesty is sometimes intended to elicit praise. This type of behavior is called “fishing for compliments”. Yet, according to a well-known comical scenario an unlucky individual may reel in a fishing line and discover a useless boot attached to the hook. Would you please explore the provenance of the joke based on this sketch?

Quote Investigator: The author Carol Weston has been providing advice to young women as a columnist in “Girls’ Life” magazine since the 1990s. Even before that in 1985 she wrote “Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You” which included the following guidance. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

The best way to accept a compliment is to smile and say. “Thank you.” If you like, you can add, “That’s nice of you to say.”

Beware of fishing for compliments—you might come up with a boot!

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Beware of Fishing for Compliments—You Might Come Up with a Boot

Notes:

  1. 1985, Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You by Carol Weston, Chapter 2: Friendship: You Don’t Like Everybody; Why Should Everybody Like You?, Quote Page 47, Barnes & Noble Books: A Division of Harper & Row, New York. (Verified with hard copy)