Sometimes people will say something to you, that's just an obvious statement. Like "Your hair is curly today" or "You are tall." They comment on something that's different or unique. This is a not-compliment. The person has noticed that something is different, it has caught their attention, they don't particularly like it, but yet they feel compelled to say something.
"Your shoes are green."
"Your hair is shorter."
"That's a lot of pens."
Now sometimes the person doesn't know how they feel yet. So they ask for more information to stall until they can actually form an opinion.
"What color green would call those?"
"How many inches did you take off?"
"Why do you need all those pens? Did you order them from Staples on the company account?"
Usually, even with the extra information you will still not receive a compliment. Just a head nod, or perhaps being cut off from ordering anything from Staples.
And my I say for the record, that no, I don't have a dire need for the 26 pack of fine point sharpies. But as I continue in this position I find more and more new ways to use them. Like checking things off in different colors, or doodling in meetings.
And amendment to post below: When seven foot tall homeless man tells you that your shoes are untied, and you tie those motherfuckers.