What Is the Difference Between Appreciation and Flattery to Win a Friend Over?

The difference between flattery and appreciation has to do with your motives and sincerity.
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It is customary to compliment people you admire and want to befriend, but there are differences between a compliment meant to flatter and a compliment to express appreciation. Both can make a friend feel good about himself, but the difference between the two lies in your intention and sincerity. Know the difference so that you can figure out how to best win over your friend.

1 Your Intention

The motives behind flattery can sometimes be selfish, while the motive for showing appreciation is gratitude. In the Psychology Today blog post, “Praise as Manipulation: 6 Reasons to Question Compliments," clinical psychologist Leon F. Seltzer defines flattering comments as bribery. When you flatter someone, you are usually doing it with the intention of getting something that you want. It is selfish when you are only paying that compliment to bribe her into friendship. Your motive is genuine appreciation if you are complimenting someone you truly admire, without thinking about how you will benefit from giving the compliment.

2 Your Sincerity

Some flattering comments can come off as fake, while comments that show appreciation are more sincere and genuine. When you want to be someone's friend because you appreciate them, the compliments that express that appreciation will be genuine. If you are flattering someone for the sake of it, you may find yourself telling him what he wants to hear, even though what you say may not necessarily be true. Using false flattering comments to get your way can get you in trouble. In "How to Win Friends and Influence People," the late lecturer Dale Carnegie compared flattery to counterfeit money. Passing it around will only result in problems.

3 Their Perception

Appreciation is seen in a positive light, while flattery can sometimes be viewed as negative if the receiver detects deception or insincerity. People can usually tell when your compliments are fake or genuine, according to Carnegie. Those who can spot false flattery will likely get annoyed and will not appreciate or trust what you say. But when you consistently express gratitude through words, your friend will feel appreciated because you acknowledged something positive about her.

4 Flattery is Unnecessary

There is no need to dish out fake compliments when speaking to someone you want to befriend. Give a genuine compliment instead. Just take the time to think about what you appreciate about him and let him know. Doing this means you won't have to resort to false flattery.

Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".