The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

January 29, 2013

Flattery is a powerful tool; use it wisely

Is your head turned by flattery? Think about it.

There is not a one of us who doesn’t appreciate a sincere compliment, whether it is about our appearance or our children or our accomplishments. It is nice to be noticed and appreciated for what we do and are or have.

However, we have to be concerned, lest an abundance of compliments and gratitude sink to the level of smug self-satisfaction. Worthy compliments must find the name in expression of service, not just being beautiful or talented or who our ancestors were.

We have all heard it said that flattery will get you anything. But I disagree. We can all see through what is flattery and a sincere compliment. We know if we are that gorgeous, or whatever. Don’t we really dislike a clerk in a dress shop who tells us something looks just wonderful, when we absolutely know it looks awful? I appreciate honesty, and I think most other people do, too. It is sincere compliments and honesty that keeps us returning to a particular store and clerk.

Back during the depression years, we wore lots of hand-me-downs. That didn’t hurt a bit. In fact, it may have made us appreciate the things we had and now have. Mother was an expert at making things over and making them “new” for us. And the clothes didn’t fit like some second-hand Rose. She tucked here and let out there and always had the hems in the right place so the dresses were not too short or too long. I still look at some clothes and wonder if they are hand-me-downs, because they drag or are too short like they really belonged to a short cousin, or were never adjusted or altered.

When Mother got through with her fixing, we always got compliments on the clothes. That made us feel so important and spiffy. A little compliment can go a long way in making someone feel better about themselves and how they look.

Sometimes we meet people who show potential worth, but who at present seem unsure of themselves — or weak, or shallow, or superficial. Maybe all that person needs is a real compliment for something he or she has accomplished. Flattery does not help. It only make them feel worse about themselves. We fool no one with excessive chatter, but with sincere appreciation and observation.

Have you ever noticed how a child will perk up when praised? When they preform well in an assembly at school or sing in church, they simply beam when we clap for them. They know they have done well, but they like the feedback that a compliment gives. Even little kids know when they get a compliment or if it false flattery.

A pat on the back for a job well done can do wonders to boost morale in an office. The boss doesn’t have to flatter to let his employees know they are appreciated beyond the usual expected tasks. A former boss never handed me a paycheck without saying “thanks” for working for him and doing a good job. It was like receiving flowers every day. What a joy it was to go to work knowing one was appreciated.

A compliment can go far in making one feel good about oneself. In this world where there is so much gloom and doom, it is important to have good self-esteem. So much can be changed by one sincere compliment and recognition of achieved accomplishments. All it take is saying a kind word sometimes.

We should formulate our words as clearly as possible whenever adjustment in conduct is required to achieve the highest results. Even though we may be breaking up some unfortunate habit or deep-seated prejudice, any statement should be affirmative and not negative. Faults yield best to positive treatment. Master those skills! “A genuine compliment is nice ... but flowery flattery is a vice.” Know one from the other.

I clipped this little poem (prayer) from some magazine or paper, and have kept it for a long time (like I do everything). It is called “An Employer’s Prayer,” but it could also be about a spouse or a parent or a friend. The message is the same:

“Dear Lord, please help me

“To accept human beings as they are, not yearn for perfect creatures.

“To recognize ability and encourage it.

“To understand shortcomings and make allowances for them.

“To work patiently for improvement and not to expect too much too quickly.

“To appreciate what people do right, not just criticize what they do wrong.

“To be slow to anger and hard to discourage.

“To have the hide of an elephant and the patience of Job.

“In short, Lord, please help me to be a better boss.”
(Or parent, spouse, friend etc.)

My friend, Dorothy, shared this cake recipe with me this week. She says she often takes it to their church suppers and always gets compliments and rave reviews. I call it:

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