Do you know the difference between flattery and a compliment?
[Gary Petty] All of us like compliments. We appreciate it when someone comes up and tells us, "Boy, that was a good job" or "You look nice today." But there's a real difference between a compliment and flattery. They may seem to be the same but actually, they're not. You know, it's interesting that in the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes this, "Ointment and perfume delight the heart and the sweetness of a man's friend gives delight by hearty counsel."
You know, it's very rewarding. It can be very encouraging when someone we know who's very sincere comes up and tells us what a good job we did or like I said, how good we look that day or just give us a compliment. Flattery is something else. Flattery is given by a person who is not sincere. Their compliments have a purpose. They're actually trying to get something out of us. They're trying to manipulate us.
Here's what Solomon wrote about flattery. He says, "A man who flatters his neighbor, spreads a net for his feet." You see, when someone is flattering you, what they're trying to do is use the compliments to endear you to them so that eventually, they can manipulate you, get something out of you. But it's not for your benefit. A good compliment is out of appreciation for your benefit. Flattery is something different. It's very hard to tell the difference. And this is something that children need to learn. The difference between a compliment and flattery.
One of the greatest stories that teaches, especially children, about flattery is one of Aesop's Fables. In this fable, there is a crow sitting up on a limb that has a huge piece of food in her beak. A fox comes along and says, "Wow, you are the most beautiful crow. The most beautiful bird. You're beautiful. You have a great complexion. You have a wonderful shape. In fact, you would be the queen of all the birds if you could just sing." Well, the crow is so taken aback by all the flattery, that she says she's going to prove that she should be the queen of the birds by singing. Opens her mouth, the food drops out and the fox grabs it and runs away. And basically says, "I complimented her over her beauty, not her brains." Important lesson.
So remember, when people keep giving you compliments, be sure and think about is that a genuine compliment? If it is, accept it in the spirit that it's given. But if someone keeps flattering you in an insincere way, be aware, because they may be trying to take advantage of you.
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