Archive for March 16, 2010

The fine art of flattery

“These can be worn both sides, sir” explained the road side vendor to me, a disinterested browser, highlighting one of the features of his offerings. He has hung jackets of all sizes in his elevated footpath shop in this busy city market and the colourful display, I must confess, was quite attractive. “And sir, there are four hidden pockets, each deep enough to conceal a lap-top” continued the young man exhibiting the inside anatomy of the bulky stuff. I gave him a semi-ridiculous smile as I made lazy steps away to the next shop. “But sir, you should wear it to feel the comfort” insisted the guy holding a crimson bush coat, ready to thrust it on to my unwilling shoulders. “But I don’t need one in this season” was my vein pleading as I soon found myself inside a multi-strapped tight wear. “You look just like Bachchan of Aladin” exclaimed the vendor inviting me to check it up for myself in front of the full-length mirror placed angularly in one corner, with my dark sun glasses on. And I should say that I was quite impressed by my reflection. “Well, what’s the price?” was sort of an auto-reflex question and after two minutes of rapid price negotiations, the guy has succeeded in selling me a three-layered leather jacket on a mid-May afternoon.

Flattery has been one of the most tried and tested weapons in the armoury of many a successful men (and women) as they mastered the skill to deploy it with lethal efficiency. What the most convincing arguments and compelling reasons cannot accomplish, flattery would win the case for you in a trice. While the sales guy could close the deal by complimenting the sharp and the Machiavellian style probing of a necessarily dull witted customer, in the office scenario, verbal admiration of the boss’s terrible PowerPoint presentation could be a surer way to get a short leave than attempting to explain that you have done with the work slated for the day.  Praise his dress choices, admire his sense of humour and marvel at his quick thinking and you are sure to make rapid strides on the corporate ladder.    

Our politicians have long discovered the priceless value of flattery and have developed it into a fine art, worthy of emulation in other fields of human enterprise. A powerful women chief minister can be the re-incarnation of Durga, the Madam in charge of the High Commend could be a combination of the valour of a Laxmi Bai, the compassion of a Mother Theresa and the Shrewdness of a Chanakya and a ranting octogenarian seldom seen outside his habitat could be the heir apparent of Akbar, The Great!. For many in the tribe, flattery comes as a natural instinct, both to survive and to surge ahead, in the choppy waters of Indian politics.

But flattery as an art has a long history to it, practiced extensively in the courts of kings and emperors of yore as the titles and decorations they enjoyed suggest. A chieftain of a feudal state could be a “ Rajadhiraja”, a ruler whose writ runs not more than few kilometres can be a “ Digvijay” and an erstwhile king who lived on a stipend of the British could be an “Alampanah.”  Poems were created in their praises and were lavishly compensated with cash and land by the objects of admiration. Such has been the influence of flattery that we have not even spared our gods and goddesses in its application- higher the flattery, more would be the boon conferred.

Why flattery has a very illogical grip over us is the fact that it works on humans at the sub-conscious level and make us feel good about it even while we know it is utter falsehood. So there is a science to flattery besides the art.

So the next time you want to make that extra leap to reach your goal, try flattery. It works every time. Even at home!



March 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm 8 comments

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