When fawning doesn’t work
I’ll let you into a secret. One of the things that irritate me is fawning, defined by the oxford dictionary as ‘displaying exaggerated flattery or affection.’
Even though I don’t agree with it, I can understand people behaving in such a manner to gain advantage in a work situation, although it still riles me. People should be awarded on merit, not on the ability to suck-up.
However, I shall move on. What I find more difficult to understand is when it occurs in a social situation. Let me clarify. I’m not talking about someone trying to seek advantage by getting onto a social committee or be accepted into a team. I’m not even talking about someone trying to be accepted by the ‘popular’ crowd. I am talking about people who do it on a one-to-one basis, in unnecessary circumstances.
Constantly praising someone is shallow, since these people often say the same things to everyone. It can also be deceitful and disrespectful.
Take the following example. I used to play badminton on a regular basis and with the same crowd. One day, I was having a bad day, and a man, someone who knew my game well, came up to me and showered me with compliments. Saying things like: ‘you’re playing so well, you’re overhead is amazing today, those cross-court drop-shots you do are the best I’ve ever seen.’ I turned and stared. Was he having a laugh? No, he was deadly serious and he wouldn’t let me deny it. I don’t know what his motives were, and since I like to see the best in people, I thought he was trying to boost my confidence. However, his compliments were so over the top that my hackles rose. Everyone else knew I was playing below par, yet he didn’t; he thought I was playing at my peak.
Perhaps I just wasn’t the right recipient for his praise. Fawning works where there is a lack of self-esteem and for those people who thrive on praise. I don’t fit into either category. I like praise where it’s the due, but I also like the truth, so long as it’s tactful.
Situations like this continue to baffle me, and whilst I can see the benefits for the recipient, I struggle to see the benefits for the donor. Could it be that they have an innate need to be liked, or is it something else? All I can say is that it’s a good job we’re all different, else people watching would be such a bore!