Flattery Will Get You Everywhere, Or Was It Nowhere?

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere, Or Was It Nowhere? -  Steve Wickham

It's everywhere. We see it when people are trying to be nice with one another, and we experience it when someone is trying to sell us something. It's flattery. If you're like me, you might've grown up thinking of it as something good, which captured the essence of the saying, "Well, flattery will get you nowhere," or was it, "everywhere"? We may have made joking remarks about it, but we subconsciously saw through it, and knew it wasn't right. The point is we don't often see the problem with it; we don't see it for 'what' it really is.
Flattery (or variously obsequiousness) is contemptible because it is given to deceive. It's about "excessive praise out of self-interest." Or put another way; it is the act of giving excessive compliments, generally for the purpose of ingratiating oneself with the subject.[1] It generally connotes insincerity. It's deception to get what the flatterer wants.
Dale Carnegie once said, "Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself." And ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates said, "Flattery is like friendship in show, but not in fruit." It's hollow, false and damaging.
Flattery's opposite is to communicate truthfully, flawlessly. It is communication motivated for the actual need alone, and praise is only given when it's warranted. It would not deliver praise for any other reason, and definitely not for personal gain. Obsequiousness isn't just the transmission of smooth or sweet words; it's really the broad intent of selfishness and a lack of character that drives it.
Vanity (a form of the deadly sin, pride) is the reason we fall for flattery-we sometimes want to believe the 'excessive praise' we get, subconsciously pretending it were true. At these times, truth doesn't matter so much, after all, the lie makes us feel great, and if one person can say it, well, it could just be true enough for them to believe it too, so why not others? Do we see any denial here?
Vanity is a trap, pure and simple. Pride goes before destruction as the old proverb expounds. People who accept flattery when it's given show their weakness for it and are all the more susceptible to it in the future. The person who behaves foolishly enough to flatter will find vane people constantly clinging to them. Birds of a feather stick together, as the once-popular saying goes.
Flattery is duplicitous and a prelude to trickery. One of the most important Christian prophesies[2] about the end of time mentions that 'flattery will corrupt' those who are corruptible. This is not a good place for one to be in. To not fall for it but stand firm is wise.
We need to be wary of false praise. It's probably happening to you more than you realise. Take a moment to think of those who are trying to achieve your esteem; wanting to get into your good books. If they are trying it on you, beware; be on your guard, for they lie to get something from you or others that they either can't get, or can't be bothered getting, legitimately. Sweet talk is a cover for someone's real intention.
Sycophancy (another word for it) is a favourite behaviour of the 'proverbial fool.' They treat others how they want to be treated. They can't think and speak truthfully, so the best thing that comes from their mouths is a 'nice lie.' Nice lies however, have the nature of wrong about them and in truth are no nicer than a terrible lie.
What can we learn from people who flatter us? Or perhaps we recognise within ourselves the propensity to this sort of behaviour? The most likely places you could find yourself engaging in this behaviour are at work, or in social scenes where you might feel the need to 'brown-nose.' No matter what your instincts tell you, it is never a good idea to engage in this behaviour.
We need to be genuine and sincere in our complimenting behaviour. We need to be specific, timely, and fair.

  • There's not much sense in saying to someone, "You look great," or "Great job!" If you mean it, it's far better being more informative about what it is exactly that provoked such a response in you. What is it in their appearance or performance you liked exactly? Be articulate.
  • Make sure wherever you can, to compliment people from your heart, in the most sincere way you can, and try to do it straight away; don't think, "I'll do it later," have the courage to do it now. Good intentions rarely fail.
  • Finally, make sure it is fair and appropriate. Whenever you feel drawn to flatter someone, perhaps a superior at work or in a club you belong to, stop and have the courage to restrain yourself and not give the 'excessive praise.' The good person who you flatter will see all through it in any event, so make it genuine.

  • © Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide. [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flattery[2] See Daniel 11:32. Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's interest in psychology is matched by years of experience in the psychology of safety in workplaces. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us. An advocate for a fair and just life, Steve implements wisdom strategies to his life through a passion for Proverbial wisdom. His highest goal is doing God's will, in enhancing his life, and the lives of others. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Wickham Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/969954