Flattery Will Get You… Well, It Depends.

The blog comment read, “Your writing is excellent, and I’m inspired by what you’ve shared. I’ll bookmark it and come back often for wisdom and encouragement.”

And I hit “DELETE” in annoyance.

Because an insincere comment from someone simply seeking a ping-back to their own site is as meaningful to me as a stranger whom I’ve never fed telling me that I make incredible Texas Sheet Cake. They just don’t know. So their words really can’t touch me.

We want to hear encouragement not only from people who actually know us, but particularly from those who know what our challenges have been, what almost kept us from succeeding, what demons we face, what progress we’ve made, and what we value.

You can tell me that I’m a good housekeeper (not true), and it really doesn’t scratch an itch. But if you tell me that I am a good mother, well then I’ll perk up and listen, leaning in, aching for it to be true… because that is what I value, where I want to be effective and thoughtful.

I read something when my children were small that encouraged parents to comment on things that the child could replicate and grow into — instead of commenting on superficial or potentially temporary things. For example, if I said, “Wow, I really saw you working hard on that project. You’re a person who sticks with things,” that can build confidence that the child really can continue to persevere.

Instead, if I said, “You sure are pretty. I love that about you,” well… you get it… what happens if that person’s looks fade or she’s marred with deformity or disfigured? She could assume she’s no longer valuable. 

I love the idea of noticing and praising what we see in others, particularly those we know and love the best. We have to speak up! People are so starved for being seen and known with specificity.

And I love watching the bud of a talent or nascent gift take glorious bloom in the sunlight and rich soil of encouragement.

But if you are complimenting my writing (or me) insincerely for your own benefit, move on. I don’t want to buy your phonics program or “male enhancer.”

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