Appreciation versus flattery, what’s the difference?
The next time you enjoy filet mignon at the club, send word to the chef that it was excellently prepared, and when a tired salesman shows you unusual courtesy, please mention it.
Every lecturer, minister, and public speaker knows the discouragement of pouring himself or herself out to an audience and not receiving a single ripple of appreciative comments. What applies to professionals applies doubly to workers in offices, shops, and factories, and to our families and friends. In our interpersonal relations we should never forget that all our associates are human beings and hunger for appreciation. It’s the legal tender that all souls enjoy.
Paul Harvey, in one of his radio broadcasts, “The Rest of the Story,” told how showing sincere appreciation can change a person’s life. He reported that years ago, a teacher in Detroit asked Stevie Morris to help her find a mouse that was lost in the classroom. You see, she appreciated the fact that nature had given Stevie something no one else in the room had. Nature had given Stevie a remarkable pair of ears to compensate for his blind eyes. But this was really the first time Stevie had been shown appreciation for those talented ears. Now, years later, he says that this act of appreciation was the beginning of a new life. You see, from that time on he developed his gift of hearing and went onto become, under the stage name of Stevie Wonder, one of the great pop singers and songwriters of the seventies.
Of course, flattery on the other hand seldom works with discerning people. It can be shallow, selfish, and insincere. It ought to fail and it usually does. True, some people are so hungry, so thirsty, for appreciation that they will swallow anything, just as starving a man will eat grass. In the long run, flattery is counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it will eventually get you into trouble if you pass it to someone else.
Overall, what is the difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other is insincere. One comes from the heart out; and the other from the teeth out. One is universally admired whereas the other is universally condemned.
Emerson said, “Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
If that was true of Emerson, isn’t it likely to be a thousand times more true of you and me? Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime. Even repeat them years after you have forgotten them.
Try leaving a friendly trail of little sparks of gratitude on your daily trips. You will be surprised how they will set small flames of friendship that will be rose beacons on your next visit. The world is full of people who are grabbing and self seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage and little competition.
Owen Young, one of America’s great business leaders, once said: “People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them.”
About Matt Sileno: Matt Sileno, the President/Founder of The Intuitive Group, Inc. is no stranger to hard work and overcoming adversity. He has taken his small Sales and Marketing Firm to new heights working directly with Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies across the U.S.