Paul Olarewaju: Compliments, False Flattery, And Reality
The magical powers of a well-timed compliment from the right person at the right time cannot
be overemphasized. Sometimes, it is all you need to be the ray of sunshine on another person’s
cloudy day. However, I have learnt to be suspicious of people who "over compliment".
Should passing compliments be a tradition or a rule of etiquette? Nope! Personally, I feel a
compliment is unnecessary unless it’s genuinely meant. Why say, “Aww…. your makeup is
beautiful” when your original thought is “This girl’s makeup is horrible!”? Hey, no one is asking
you to tell her that she looks horrible, but it would be better if you could politely let her know
she could have done better with the makeup, or you simply keep your opinion to yourself if
your relationship with the individual is not strong enough for such an opinion to be expressed.
Giving compliments should come naturally, it should be an expression of your thought on
something you genuinely think is impressive or commendable, I consider anything other than
this as false flattery.
False Flattery, hmm, as pleasing as it sounds to the ears most times, it’s a very powerful
manipulative tool used against unsuspecting victims, especially those who greatly desire
approval from others. People sometimes resort to flattery in pursuit of sex, advice, training,
selfish financial gains, undeserved career advancement, and others.
When you suspect a compliment is an insincere platitude, and a politically correct utterance of
what the sweet-talker thinks you want to hear, rather than what they sincerely think, take
caution, so as not to fall for their subtle deception. Idle flattery is best left sitting idle on its
own, rather than being internalized by our greedy ego.
How does one tell the difference between a sincere compliment and idle flattery? The key
difference between both acts is sincerity. Flattery is an excessive or insincere praise, whereas
compliments are a genuine appreciation of something or someone.
Remember the famous Aesop's fable of "The Fox and the Crow"? In the fable a crow found a
piece of cheese and retired to a branch to eat it. A fox, wanting it for himself, flattered the
crow, called it beautiful and asked if its voice is as sweet to match. When the crow let out a
caw, the cheese fell and was devoured by the fox.
As it could be observed in the short tale, to further their own interests, flatterers often say the
exaggerated version of what they believe you would love to hear. Although many people are
taken in by people who flatter them, flattery is not a good way to impress anyone. It shows the
insincerity and dishonesty of a person.
Compliments are good, but not if they fail to reflect reality or are borne out of ulterior motives.
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