Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flattery vs. Compliments

Flattery: "a deception of others and ones self" "insincere and excessive compliments for personal advantage"

Another title for this blog could be: selfishness vs. selflessness. That is because flattery is always about the flatterer and compliments are about the "other" person. I read where a well-known widow at a big reception asked a young man to guess her age. "You must have some idea" she said as he hesitated. "I have several ideas," he admitted with a smile. "The trouble is that I hesitate whether to make it ten years younger on account of your looks, or ten years older on account of your intelligence."

Giving sincere compliments is a powerful tool for creating and building relationships. Flattery destroys them. Praise rightfully earned helps develop the self-esteem of those we care about. Insincere flattery (which may be an oxymoron since flattery is by definition insincere) makes us feel less worthwhile, makes us feel hurt and used and less trusting of the flatterer. The flattery may for a short time make one feel good but ultimately it will make that same person feel empty and used. The Bible is full of verses warning against falling into the trap of either giving or receiving flattery.

It is important to understand that a flatterer depends on giving compliments for his own personal gain when he doesn't usually believe the compliment itself. Every one likes a sincere compliment. However people with a low self-confidence can be susceptible to the flatterer. Ironically a person who attempts to flatter a person, thinking that his flattery will work, really shows how little he thinks of that person.

Up North Wisdom says we should and must be more complimentary of others. Use the gift of encouragement. Sometimes out of fear that our compliments may be mistaken for flattery, we often neglect to build others up and to give deserving compliments and encouragement. Motive is the difference between flattery and a sincere compliment. One is intended to encourage and give credit where credit is due, the other is self-serving. Avoid being manipulated by flattery and being a flatterer. Flattery is a lie. The Bible calls it sin and so should we.