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Flattery for Self Development
“Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself," - Dale Carnegie.
The path of personal growth has three stations that are visited repeatedly on a spiral path from now to your eventual full self-fulfillment. Self-awareness to understand who you are right now. Self-design to figure out who you want to become. Self-transformation to take you from where you are to where you want to be. Each station is essential and requires its own approach.
In the previous article I described an effective tool for self-awareness and self-transformation - your personal boundaries. How to change them and what effect that would have on your identity and your health. Today I continue with another simple way to understand your self and the selves of others - compliments.
Do you enjoy being complimented or do you feel self conscious when someone applauds your talents, your identity, your actions: "You are a wonderful speaker!" "You are beautiful!" "You can make really good jokes!" There are three ways to handle a compliment - acceptance, rejection, redirection. Most people do not know how to accept a compliment, instead they reject or redirect it. Which is unfortunate because sincere compliments add to your cache of positive examples, and you can rely on them later to support empowering beliefs about your self. Many people will shy away from a compliment by claiming modesty. Often behind modesty hides insecurity. Let's look closer at the three ways to handle a compliment.
You accept a compliment when you reply with a "Yes", "Thank you", a smile or a nod. On the inside it feels like the compliment is going in, that you have an internal agreement. You reject a compliment when you reply "It's nothing", "No big deal", give a counterexample, wave your hand to the side or over the shoulder to send the compliment packing. On the inside it feels like the compliment was brushed aside, that it has little to do with who you are.
You redirect a compliment when in the response you change its meaning. To understand this a little better, I will use a simple four way classification of the meaning of compliments and responses: behavior, identity, environment and emotional state. For example, when I say: "You are eloquent," that's a compliment about your identity. If you reply with:
"I did speak well," - that's about your behavior.
"Thank you, I am eloquent," - that's about your identity
"I had great notes," - that's about the environment.
"I was feeling energized," - that's about your emotional state.
So when you accept a compliment, your response keeps the original meaning by matching the class, and when you redirect it, your response changes the meaning by mismatching the class. A particularly frequent redirect is to respond to a compliment about identity with a comment about behavior or emotional state. I call such redirects "downshifting", because your identity includes your behaviors and your emotional states. It is much more empowering to know that you are smart, then to know that you simply passed an exam or that you just felt smart for half an hour.
"Upshifting" is also possible, when a compliment about behavior, environment or emotional state generates response about identity, e.g. "You finished the exam first," - "Yes, I am smart." These happen occasionally with self-assured and confident people.
Master how to accept compliments - they are your gifts for building empowering beliefs. It is healthy to accept a compliment at its face value by matching the class. To do that simply listen to the compliment, acknowledge it with a "Thank you," and imagine the compliment going inside the hidden power cache of your mind.
Sincerely complimenting people not only gives you a chance to help them feel good, but also enables you to easily conversationally read them. By noticing where they downshift or upshift you will know precisely what they think about themselves.
Compliments are one simple way that language can deeply influence who you are. An even more powerful way to literally change perceived reality is with presuppositions. In the next article I will delve into the why and how of presuppositions, that are also often called frames.
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May You Be Happy!
- Arman Darini, Ph.D.
About the Author: Arman Darini, Ph.D. is the director of Holographic University, the author of weekly Tips for Creating an Extraordinary and Meaningful Life, and a certified international NLP Trainer. As the leader of a dynamic team of Life Trainers and Coaches, Arman's motto is "I don't believe in your limitations". To learn more about Arman, visit ArmanDarini.com