The fine art of flattery

March 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm 8 comments

“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!



Entry filed under: Humour.

A tribute to our MPs – Men in Parliament The Prince of Ayodhya

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rekha  |  March 17, 2010 at 6:15 am

    nice one 🙂 As Dale Carnegie says, “Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks of himself!”

  • 2. Rubi  |  March 17, 2010 at 8:38 am

    This piece comes at the apt time of the appraisals. Flattery, in the absence of talent, can lead one to places!

  • 3. BG Nair  |  March 17, 2010 at 9:40 am

    May be, we should try it on Maoists! It may work.

  • 4. Viny  |  March 17, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Your article reminds me of the current ad where a politician is helping a blind old man cross the road with flattering words and then there is a news flash that he won the elections. The blind old man is left in the middle of the road traffic and a motorcyclist comments looking at the old man. He says something like, “Unka kaam toh ho gaya.”

    It clearly defines the current scenario.

  • 5. umesh  |  March 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I do not know the meaning of flattery (this itself shows that I am flaterring).

  • 6. sreelatha  |  March 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Flattery is actually an art. One who excels gets the cake and the cream..:)

  • 7. sachinarya  |  April 30, 2010 at 10:37 am

    He he…

    Nice one.. Actually, I feel flattery is totally justified…Just hide it under the veil of Networking and there you go…

    In a company, I have seen people who flatter grow much faster than other employees…See, skills everyone has, so is everyone hardworking…to get above ‘equals’ you should have something special in your armoury…

    A favorable comment/compliment here and there goes and long way..

    Finally, its not unethical…Remember- if you don’t do it, someone else will…so, don’t let go of opportunities…A quite similar take on how to settle with a new boss -


  • 8. The fine art of flattery | chapter18  |  August 15, 2021 at 3:01 am

    Marc Morell

    “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 co…


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