5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Flattery

by Lizabet Nix on September 28, 2014

“Bad companions, corrupt good character.”

Heeding this adage may lead us to remove or distance ourselves from the negative people in our lives. But have you ever considered that good companions can corrupt good character? The proverb’s flip side is subtle, and yet has implications that are just as deadly to your development as the leader, manager, entrepreneur you want to become.

The “good companion” referred to in this reversed proverb is the person with whom we feel like-minded, who agrees with us. Another saying expresses a similar idea: ” The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire, but man is tested by the praise he receives.”

Consider that some of your “good” companions may be flatterers, people who “try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.” Personal discernment is truly put to the test when one’s company includes flatterers. It’s an age-old drama going right back to the Garden of Eden.

From Eve’s perspective, the serpent was a positive voice, affirming her point of view, assuring her that her line of thought and reasoning were “spot on.”

Another example is the Watergate scandal of the Nixon presidency. Nixon kept a tight inner circle, surrounding himself with “positive” people who supported and enabled his faulty perspectives of himself and the reach of his influence. Anyone who expressed a dissenting view was excluded from his inner circle. The results were not only disastrous to Nixon personally, but also detrimental to the United States.

Where do flatterers show up?

As your visibility and authority increase, so will your attractiveness to people who want to be associated with you. Through social media we tend to open ourselves to a wider circle of people who offer comments on what we say, think and do. It’s a perfect opportunity for flatterers to insert themselves into our lives.

When do flatterers show up?

Flatterers show up any time there is a perceived or real imbalance between your authority, prestige, notoriety or resources and those of your inner circle. Flatterers may or may not be aware of the self-serving motivation for their devotion to you or your ideas. Regardless, giving heed to flattery never turns out well.

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Flatterers

  1. Beware of those who overuse superlatives — words that convey the highest degree of comparison. You are not awesome all the time, nor are all your ideas brilliant. Most likely, you are not a genius either.
  2. Be wise about your inner circle. Make sure your inner circle includes those who have your best interests and personal growth at heart – people who feel secure to challenge you in a constructive way.
  3. Choose an accountability partner.  It’s imperative to have someone with whom you have a specific agreement to address difficult issues. You may need to negotiate how and when to approach one another, identify specific words as off-limits and define acceptable formats of communication, face-to-face, phone, e-mail, text, etc.
  4. Practice accepting criticism. If someone doesn’t agree with you, it doesn’t mean they are negative. It’s dishonest to tell people “I value what you think” and then write them off as “negative” or “a whiner” if they don’t agree with you 100%. Consider whether there is a grain of truth in their feedback.
  5. Be the messenger. Don’t indulge in flattery yourself. Practice expressing dissenting opinions. It will give you an appreciation for what an art it is to deliver constructive criticism well.  It will also create empathy and respect for those who express their disagreement with you.


It’s not about you.  It’s about the people you serve. Whenever the reports of your awesomeness seem overstated, they are. By protecting yourself from flattery, you free yourself to develop as the leader, manager, or entrepreneur you need to become to serve people well.

Friends don’t let friends be fooled by flattery.  Spread the word.


What A Bad Wallpaper Choice Taught Me About Learning To Use Siri

The wallpaper in our small entry hall had gotten shabby looking. I chose a new paper, ordered a 3′ x 3′ sample and pinned it to the wall. After studying the sample for a few months, I knew this paper would look good in the space. Yesterday the paperhanger came. When he called for me to inspect the finished job, I gasped.

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Obviously I hadn’t visualized the pattern on a full wall… It looks like op art. The shading of the geometric pattern makes the wall appear to be alternately projecting, receding and slanting. Not what I thought I was getting. So what does using Siri have to do with my wallpaper debacle? Fortunately, my Siri story leads to a more favorable outcome. But it started, just like the wallpaper: I thought I knew enough.

And Just Who Is This Siri Person?

Siri is a voice recognition program that comes with Apple iPhone 5 and 4s models (as well as some iPods and iPads). In Apple-speak it’s “the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” And the “help you get things done” part sparked my interest.

What Sparked My Interest in Siri?
I’ve been studying Chaos Planning and Pronto Learning, e-books by Sean D’Souza of www.psychotactics.com. These books continually reinforce the need for us to be competent in our daily tasks – especially in the software and hardware we use daily basis. In reference to gaining competence in the use of hardware and software, Sean states that instead of digging deep and learning these tools, we spend time “doing silly, basic things and never use the power of [them].” That got me thinking about my iPhone and Siri. What advantage could I gain by becoming competent in the use of my iPhone and its capabilities? I have found competence in using Siri to have three basic advantages.

The Three Advantages of Siri Competency

Advantages of Siri competency fall into three categories:

• Immediacy – Dictation can be done for a reminder or note, to schedule an appointment, send an e-mail or text message.
• Accuracy – Dictation is much more accurate than typing on a teeny tiny keyboard.
• Safety – Dictation keeps attention focused on the road instead of the phone.

These three advantages add up to improved personal productivity and efficiency. Here are a few of the ways that I use Siri for key business and personal tasks.

How I Use Siri
Here are some examples of how I have been using Siri. It makes a big difference to my efficiency – especially on tracking those random thoughts and ideas that I want to follow up on.

Set an alarm:
“Set my alarm for 5 am.”
“Cancel alarm.”
(It sure beats a keypad in the dark.)

Check the Weather:
“What’s the high today?”
“What’s the 5-day forecast?”
“What’s today’s weather in NZ?”

Play Music and Podcasts:
“Play [podcast or song name]”
This one is very useful. The last thing I want to do when walking out the door is to fumble around for a teaching segment. You must know the name of the song or podcast. But it is so much easier to say “Play Chaos Planning” than it is to remember if I’m looking for a song or a podcast.

Set Reminders:
“Remind me to [action] on [day] at [time]”
This helps me offload those things that are muddying up my focus, assured that I won’t forget them.

Query Calendar Events:
“When is my next [meeting or event name as it appears in your calendar]?

Compose Text Message or E-Mail:
“Send message to [name as it appear in your contact list]”

Make A Phone Call:
“Call [name as it appears in contact list]”
– or –
“Call [phone number]”

Perform Calculations:
“What is [calculation]?”

Interact with Existing Lists:
Access –
“What’s on my [list name] reminder?”
I use this to call up my grocery list or remind myself of what’s on my project list.
Add to –
“Add [item name] to [list name].

Open An Application:
“Open [application name].”

You get the idea. The list of possibilities is up to you. But despite all of Siri’s wonderful qualities, she has some minor shortcomings

Siri’s Shortcomings

Be forewarned, Siri has a few shortcomings. Here are three that I haven’t yet out-maneuvered.

• Siri doesn’t perfectly understand my words…but she’s pretty darn accurate. I figure having to go back and edit a message or two is worth all the other hassle I’m being saved.

• She also doesn’t recognize ranges of dates and times. For example, I have not yet found a way to have Siri block out an appointment from 2 to 4.

• If, in Siri’s opinion, your dictation is too wordy, she responds with a holier-than-thou reply suggesting the message be restated in fewer words. Come on, Siri. I’m not a computer like you!

I thought I knew enough to choose my wallpaper…Just like I thought I knew enough about the iPhone’s Siri. I am happy that the [i]Chaos Planning[/i] and [i]Pronto Learning[/i] materials challenged me to dig a little deeper and go for competency in the use of Siri. Indeed it is much like having a personal assistant to help me get things done – plus it’s fun!

I challenge you to take 15 minutes experiment with a few of the Siri commands mentioned in this post. You’ll soon be hooked.


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