Negative or positive

Words are interesting as are their meanings. Yesterday out of the blue someone I’m familiar with but not friends with paid me a sincere compliment. I was flattered and it made me feel good about myself. It wasn’t flattery it was a complement. What’s the difference? I’m confused. That’s because flatter, flattered and flattery can be interpreted or used for both negative or positive.

Flatter / Flattered – (Verb) (Source:

  1. to try to please by complimentary remarks or attention.

Stuck in her routine Sasha entered the common office. Scott, the office heartthrob, was leaning casually against his desk as usual and chatting with an amiable group. As he did every day, he glanced at Sasha, looked her over from head to toe and back. The slight curl to his lips as he made eye contact then turned back to his conversation, made her insides flutter from the flattering appraisal.

Karl entered Sasha’s office and she nodded a greeting. “I brought you a coffee.” He held the paper takeout cup to her. “Just the way you like it. I was there and thought after the late presentation last night you might want one.”
“Thanks Karl.” She took the offered beverage. He always meant well, the new guy who quickly learned who was important and who acted important, and flattered appropriately.
“I was in awe yesterday, you really know how to work a room. And that layout, it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen. So edgy and unique. How did you do it?”
Sasha smiled, Karl was keen and honest about it. Had it been Jada she would have shooed her from her office and shut the door.

  1. to praise or compliment insincerely, effusively, or excessively:

“Sasha that layout was the best thing I’ve seen in months. And your presentation yesterday, wow you really knocked it out of the park.”
She narrowed her eyes at Jada, she only applied flattery when she wanted something.

  1. to represent favorably; gratify by falsification:

“Sasha I want this to showcase the lead actor as the best thing since sliced bread.”
“Even though he’s not and everyone in the world knows it?”
“Your job is to make him new again by design, flatter him and force the people want to believe he’s amazing. Whether he is or not doesn’t matter.”

  1. to show to advantage:

Sasha spent her weekend revamping her style, a flattering haircut and new suits and blouses that fit perfectly.

  1. to play upon the vanity or susceptibilities of; cajole, wheedle, or beguile:

“It was too easy.” Jada smirked. “I simply plied them with constant insincere compliments, favors and gifts and they signed the contract in under a week.”
“Or you could present good work and earn the contract like Sasha does.” Valery mumbled under her breath.

  1. to please or gratify by compliments or attentions:

“Oh Sash, I’m so jealous you look hot today.” Anne hugged her friend firmly. “Flattery will get you everywhere.” Sasha grinned.
“Seriously you look awesome, your new Yoga class is paying off and your hair, that cut is sexy on you.”
“Thanks Anne that means a lot coming from you.” Sasha meant it and her friend smiled.

  1. to feel satisfaction with (oneself), especially with reference to an accomplishment, act, or occasion:

Sasha smiled at the message in her email. She had done very well yesterday and was pleased with the outcome. “I so deserve this praise.”

Sometimes its good for banter between friends to illustrate their comfort with one another.

“You look like crap Sash.” Valery chuckled.
“Flatterer. I couldn’t sleep last night and coffee isn’t casting its magic strong enough.”

It is often assumed Flattery is negative, but it’s not always. Some people will misread this word as negative unless it is clearly supported by effective writing.

My advice about Flattery.
It’s a common practice to flatter or be flattered, negative or positive. Work flattery it in once and a while it’s fun. Just make sure the reader understands how you meant it.


An older but fun post: What happened to that guy?

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7 thoughts on “Negative or positive

  1. Pingback: (Insert description here) | I wrote a book. Now what?

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