Balony is flattery laid on so thick it cannot be true and blarney is flattery so thin we love it.

— Fulton J. Sheen

We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. 

Even though you can tell the other person is laying it on kind of thick, you’re still enjoying their compliments. 

You may even have an idea that there is something specific they are trying to achieve by all this flattery, besides just letting you know how awesome you are. 

But you don’t really mind, because there is one simple, universal truth at work here. 

The truth is, we all just want to be truly seen and loved for who we are. 

Barista or baroness, you want someone to take a minute to really listen to you and to care about you. 

Flattery gets a bad rap, because it is used to manipulate others into liking the flatterer and giving them preferential treatment. 

But what if you could actually use the power behind flattery for good?  What if you could use it to spread true joy, encourage good will and promote real connections? 

What if you could be the kind of person that people LOVE to see coming? The kind of person that people want to hug? 

The kind of person that is celebrated with parades and cupcakes?

What if flattery could actually be a good thing?

Flattery can be a dramatic and powerful force if used for good. It can enrich romantic relationships, help colleagues get along, and maybe even lead to new job opportunities. 

But best of all, it can be a truly affirming act of healing. 

Instead of being a “flatterer”, you can practice authentic appreciation.

There are two keys to practicing authentic appreciation:

  1. Your sincere intention must be to heal, uplift, inspire, and/or dignify. Seriously. You need to be coming from a loving place with no plans to gain anything except the satisfaction of having made another human being feel seen and accepted.
  2. You need to care about how the other person wants to be seen. What do they really want you to know about them? Do they want you to notice that they are the life of the party? That they are never late? That they know everything there is to know about armadillos? Everybody wants the world to see and appreciate specific qualities about them. 

I can’t help you with number #1. You have to be willing to examine your intentions truthfully and change them if necessary. 

But I CAN help you with number #2, because each of the four main personality types wants to be recognized for specific qualities. Once you understand the types, it’s easy to understand their values. 

But be careful! No one wants to be recognized for someone else’s top values. You don’t want to tell the girl who is proud of having a big heart that you value her “attention to detail.” To be truly authentic, the appreciation must fit the person being appreciated. 

So let’s go a bit deeper with each personality type so that you can start practicing authentic appreciation.

The personality types you will see below are described in terms of the element of nature that their personality most closely resembles – Earth, Air, Water or Fire. In my personality system that I use when I work with my coaching clients, I call this their Strongest Element. (Click here to take the Quiz and find out which is YOUR Strongest Element.)

The Earth Element

Earth Element personalities are drawn to order, structure and tradition. They are highly dependable, responsible, and reliable. They respect authority. They love crossing off their to-do lists. They are parental. On a bad day, they can be stubborn martyrs. But like the Earth, they are solid and stable.

What they want to be appreciated for:
•    Their attention to detail
•    The fact that they always keep their word
•    The sacrifices they make 

What to Say to an Earth Element: 
“I know that I can always depend on you to get things done.”
“I appreciate all the effort you put into completing this project thoroughly and on time.”
“I value your loyalty.”

The Water Element

These people are sympathetic, caring listeners. You feel comfortable confiding in them instantly. They focus on developing potential – in themselves and in others. They are romantic, compassionate and empathetic. On a bad day they are fickle drama queens. But like an ocean wave on a summer day, they are warm and nurturing.

What they want to be appreciated for:
•    Their unique ability to connect with people
•    Their helpful nature
•    The things they do to make others feel special

What to Say to a Water Element: 
“I notice that you really listen to others.”
“You make me feel truly supported.”
“I don’t know anyone who cares as deeply about others as you do.”

The Air Element

Air Elements are open-minded, logical, rational people. They consider all sides of a situation before making decisions. They research. They are experts in whatever they are passionate about. They explore big ideas. They are intellectual and academic by nature and comfortable with complexity. On a bad day they can be sarcastic perfectionists. But like a wide-open sky, they are all about possibilities.

What they want to be appreciated for:
•    Their wide breadth of knowledge
•    Their complexity
•    Their ability to solve problems

What to Say to an Air Element: 
“You know more about this subject than anyone else I know.”
“I could really benefit from your expertise in this area.”
“You are very rational and logical.”

The Fire Element

Fire Element personalities are always in motion. They are energetic go-getters. Of all personality types, Fire Elements are the most comfortable with change. They are determined, resourceful and able to rebuild easily. Naturally optimistic and charismatic, they are often the life of the party. On a bad day they can be competitive and self-destructive, but like a roaring bonfire, they are magnetic and dynamic.

What they want to be appreciated for:
•    Their willingness to take risks that others won’t
•    Their ability to make spur-of-the-moment decisions
•    Being the life of the party

What to Say to a Fire Element: 
“I always have a good time with you.”
“You are really brave to always be trying new things.”
“I admire your confidence.”

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