Charm Lesson 1: Flattery

Spouses ("Boy, your wife sure can hold her liquor” is not a compliment)

It is easy to tell a friend or new acquaintance that he or she has a nice shirt. But, even the most sophisticated man or woman can say this and appear insincere. Flattery is a cornerstone of charm. It is said that flattery is the devil’s tool. And used for selfish personal gain, it is. The secret to successful flattery is sincerity. Almost everyone, with the exception of those truly hideous or unkempt people, has an attribute that can be complimented.

Complimenting a haircut is always a good bet, if the haircut is indeed attractive. It’s a given that all people with hair have had a haircut at some point. Noticing that a friend has had a haircut lets them know you care enough to notice they have had a haircut. This also reinforces the decision he or she made when determining the hair-cut. It’s a win-win solution for everyone.

I find it best to tell a person something true. If you like Cricket’s blouse, tell her. Most people are too scared to say anything; you’ll stand out. It’s hard to dislike someone who has given you a compliment. But you must say the compliment in a sincere way, and when first greeting someone or saying goodbye. For example, at the end of a lunch when everyone is parting, reach over, touch the person on the arm and say discretely, “That is really a snappy tie.” If you sit through lunch quietly staring at them, and then blurt out suddenly, “I like your tie,” it will sound creepy and you may seem like a serial killer.

Flattery can backfire if you are not careful. I once mentioned to a woman who usually wore a hat that her hairstyle was attractive. I offended her as she had quite thin hair, and thought I was making fun of her. In actuality, I wish I had been, and now can use this as a backhanded compliment.

Good Flattery Subjects:

Jewelry (unless it’s tacky)

 

Home and Garden (“lived in,” is not a compliment)

 

Sense of Humor (not at a funeral)

 

Hairstyle (never say it reminds you of a Barbershop Quartet)

 

Clothing (find just one item to mention, even if its hard)

 

Bad Flattery Subjects:

 

Children (it may seem as if you like them too much)

 

Pregnancy (she may not be)

 

Money (“You’re so rich,” is frank, but rude.)

 

Religion (“I love Methodists. They're Baptists who read." is not acceptable)

 

Genitals (“Good God that’s big,” is flattering, but wrong.)

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