Oh, How Flattering…

Have you ever been given a compliment that seemed to be a bit too much?  You can see it coming a mile or so away?  How does that make you feel or does it just not affect you at all?  What do you think of the person who gives such compliments?  Is there any sincerity in that person’s eyes or is it all just for show?


I was reading in Proverbs 29 that “those who flatter their neighbors are spreading a snare for their feet” and it got me to pause and think about this.  I have mixed feelings about this.  Please allow me to expound on the matter.


In my past I have used flattery and I have been a recipient of someone who loves to flatter.  At first I had to take a deep look at my use of flattery.  Why did I fall prey to this treacherous technique?


There have been times in which I wanted to cheer someone up and I was a bit excessive in my compliments.  It’s not that I wasn’t sincere at any level, but I just went on and on and it could appear that way.  I have been around some people who have been either depressed or discouraged and I wanted to try to lift them up from that state they were in.  I had the bright idea of telling them about all of their good traits and it was done in the right spirit.  Sometimes however, a barrage of comments whether good or bad, can be a bit overwhelming and a little hard to accept or believe.  I have learned to use my words carefully as to encourage, but sparingly as well, so not to overwhelm or appear insincere.


I have also misused flattery.  There are times in my past (as a younger adult who was very impulsive and did not think things through) in which I laid it on pretty thick.  Yes, I will admit it and I will be held accountable for it.  However, it happened and I have learned that using inappropriate or deceptive words to get what you want is not an acceptable means to an end.  People are not gullible (well, I may be an exception) and most can see through this thinly veiled technique.  Yet, I thought I was so clever and that I was getting away with it.  I was wrong and ashamed of my actions.  I learned my lesson the hard way.  I put my character in jeopardy by these actions and it took forever for me to atone for it and repair what was damaged.


Another way that I misused flattery is when I also applied it to myself directly.  I would flatter myself, pat myself on the back and act as if I was some amazing individual.  In other words I was full of myself (and overflowing in this department).  I wasn’t fooling myself or anyone by this tactic.  I only made myself look worse.


So what was the point then and what is the point of flattery in the first place?  Is it ever a good practice?  Was I trying to appeal to my own or someone else’s vanity?  Years later as I now think about this subject I come to the conclusion that flattery is never sincere and it is not necessary.  It is a tool that stems from deceit in which the flatterer is trying to gain some sort of advantage.  The advantage could be some hidden agenda only the flatterer would know.  It is not based on a truth, but rather on a lie.


So what am I to take from all of this?  I guess we need to speak from the heart.  People should be complimented, but it has to be heartfelt and sincere.  Without those two ingredients it just falls short.  It is not productive to flatter, but rather destructive because the root is based on deception.  When we compliment and there is no sincerity amongst the words, then we do more harm than good.  We either build a new relationship or add to a current relationship a needless layer of lies and the foundation will not stand.  A crack will always appear either now or down the road.  It will appear and be found out.  It damages one’s character and threatens whatever trust was built up.  It is not worth it and the cost is too high.


I am not perfect.  I never was perfect, but I learned from my own mistakes.  I learned to take my time, pour a solid foundation built on trust and add honesty, sincerity and love to the mixture.  I want people to be happy.  I want people to know their value.  I do not want to mislead them by giving them false hope or false information.  Relationships and friendships are hard work and if you want them to last you need to put in the time to achieve this.  You need to think before you act and learn that deception no matter how innocent you think it may be, will never allow a relationship or friendship to prosper.  It will destroy it and it will destroy you.  Let your words speak the truth and just as fresh spring rain waters the seeds and they grow and blossom, so does speaking and living the truth make your friendships and relationships grow and blossom.  And remember that flattery will not only get you into trouble, as the adage states it will get you nowhere.  Think about it.

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