No other way to guard self against flattery than by making people understand that telling U the truth DO NOT offend U. – Niccolò Machiavelli
What does that mean?
This is another quote that’s just a little longer than what easily fits on Twitter. “There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.”
This quote is from his book “The Prince,” Chapter XXIII, in which he discusses the dangers of flatterers and why they should be avoided. Avoiding flattery is considered important by Machiavelli because of his concerns that a flatterer could hold too much influence over a Prince.
Flattery, is a way of life for some people, a way to exert their influence over the real ruler. This is the classic “true power behind the throne” scenario. The Prince ends up being duped (or flattered) into acting on the behalf of the flatterer, and not necessarily in their own best interests.
That is what the quote is talking about. How do you stop a flatterer dead in their tracks? Tell *everyone* that you are not offended by the truth, so there is no reason to try to candy-coat it. That is part of what a flatterer normally leads with, so take away the opening and leave the flatter with no way to gain access.
Why is keeping a level head important?
If you don’t keep a level head on your shoulders, you are far more likely to fall prey to the flattery of others. Sometimes we to it on purpose, like in dating situations, with friends, or other benign social situations. However, it’s probably not the best way to live your life, right?
Having to constantly be on your guard against the possibility of flattery, I imagine, would be tiring and very prone to error. If just one flatterer gets through, imagine the problems you could face. Keeping a level head is the best possible defense against such possibilities.
In the business world, there are terms for bosses who react favorably to flattery, as well as for the people applying the flattery. It isn’t something I would want to be part of, on either side, much less caught up in the middle of it all, would you? Been there, done that, over it already!
Where can I apply this in my life?
Someone as sneaky as a flatterer can be very difficult to detect. In the Lord of the Rings book The Two Towers, a character with the moniker “Wormtongue” has been working for the bad guys, and he has sapped the will of the King of Rohan with flattery and sorcery.
While this is a fairly extreme example, you’ve probably seen plenty of movies where the ruler (or other powerful figure) is under the influence of a flatterer. You may even have seen such behavior in person somewhere in your life, or perhaps at work.
It is easy to think you would be immune to such a simple manipulation, but when it is done by someone with some skill and some experience, the impact can be powerful and subtle at the same time. It is used by many as a tool to gain that which they think they cannot gain easily by other means.
This is the trick used by the Con-Man. Short for being one who gains your confidence before ripping you off. They will seem sincere, with only your best interests at heart. But their heart, if they actually have one, is not interested in anything related to your benefit, only their own.
This is the basic trick that the quote is warning us against. By rejecting all flattery, and insisting on the unaltered truth, we disarm the flatterer. They must then deal in truths and facts, which puts them at a considerable disadvantage.
By relying on the truth, and making sure everyone knows that you are prefer it that way, you keep everyone honest. In this manner, you kep the upper hand over the flatterer. That is the advice of the quote, and it has worked for me fairly well, even if I did stumble across it accidentally.
The surest way to keep track of the flatterers, in my experience, is to ask your friends for help. I you ask them to help you keep an eye out for others who may be trying to manipulate you, you stand a better chance of staying clear of the worst of these manipulative people.
The more powerful you become, or more precisely the more power you can wield on someone elses’ behalf, the more likely you are to have flatterers seek you out. Whether it be political power, monetary power, or some form of authority, you will encounter them. Be careful.
From: Twitter, @SialoKimiring
confirmed at : http://www.iperceptive.com/authors/niccolo_machiavelli_quotes.html 5th entry on the list.
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