Flattery won’t get you anywhere.


Flattery will get you everywhere if you use it correctly. The problem is that most people miss the mark and their attempt at flattery comes off as a cheap, inauthentic Eddie Haskell impression. (if you’re younger than 35, ask your parents). When used the right way, however, flattery can unlock doors, open conversations and lead to positive agreements. When done correctly, it truly can get you everywhere.

Why It Works

Helen Keller once said that people forget what you say and they forget what you do, but they never forget how you make them feel. Everyone likes to feel good and everyone likes a compliment. We like people who are like us, and we like people who like us. When we give a compliment to someone, we’re telling them that we like them. People respond to it because it makes them feel good and they remember how you make them feel. 

How To Do It

Flattery is really much more art than science. Getting the feel for it takes practice and time, but once it’s mastered, it becomes a potent weapon in persuading others. The best way to approach it is from a place of genuine sincerity. The reason why most people look through it and see past it is that they think it’s coming from a self-interested place. When we comment on something that we’re genuinely impressed by, that can vanish. 

There is, though, times when over-the-top flattery works as well. Pulling this off takes timing and a smile. When both parties know that the flattery given has a grain of truth but is being exaggerated, it can be charming and funny which leads it to be appreciated. It becomes something of a bonding experience that you’re both in on the joke and it’s effective. 

Making It Pay

On several occasions in my life, I have put on what I call Charm Offensives. These have been times when I wanted a particular person to like and respect me. When I’ve done this, it has always been a combination of authentic appreciation for a skill or characteristic, along with thick, over-the-top compliments that make both of us laugh. In nearly every case, this has worked and helped to establish relationships. In fact, I made one of my very best friends with a charm offensive. 

When you work in a small town, the local newspaper can be a really great ally to have. The publisher of that paper has a pretty powerful position. When I was trying to establish this relationship, I was honest with her that I wanted to be her friend and that I was on a Charm Offensive. I told her that I admired how hard she must have worked to become a publisher and that I appreciated her paper. Every time I saw her, I mentioned her paper as “the paper of record” and made jokes about how no one could miss their daily addition. It was a combination of over-the-top and sincere. She knew that I knew that some of it was bullshit but that behind it was a real admiration. My flattery won me the friendship.   

Put It To Use

Whenever we’re beginning to build rapport with anyone, it’s helpful to keep in mind that everyone loves a compliment. Everyone loves to feel good and everyone loves to be flattered. It’s a fundamental fact of life that flattery will get you everywhere. 

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