They say if you’re in business at all, then you are in the business of sales and marketing. 

And if you are in the business of sales and marketing, you are trying to make good impressions.  And those good impressions lead to beneficial opportunities down the road. But in an effort to land that big deal or get a face-to-face with the next level up, some people resort to a foolish tactic.

The tactic is flattery. 

Flattery is excessive or insincere praise. And some may use it to get a smile, a laugh, or even a few more minutes with a manager. But the upside down business idea is important to remember: The risks of flattery outweigh any short-term benefit. 

The wise king warned his son about this same thing when he wrote, “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” (Proverbs 29:5)

What are the risks of flattery?

First, like the proverbial net, flattery feels like a trap. Any leader worth her salt can spot flattery within moments. It breeds immediate distrust rather than favor. 

Second, flattery comes from a place of dishonesty rather than truth. Flattery reminds the hearers that you care more about shallow reactions than the truth, but a well-crafted compliment encourages the entire team.

Third, flattery reveals laziness. There are probably truthful observations you could use for compliments. Flattery reveals you didn’t take the time to discover them. Proverbs says “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

Fourth, flattery decreases your odds of future success. To maximize your potential, you must build healthy, authentic relationships all across the organizational chart. Flattery hampers healthy relationships because it is insincere and fake. 

Lastly, flattery replaces wisdom with foolishness. Like cheap cologne, your flattery show obvious desperation and ruins any intended effort at a good impression. 

Take the high road. Speak truth. Don’t be afraid to give a compliment, but make it meaningful and relevant.  

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