Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fine-Tuning the Ego Machine

"Wait a Minute. Does Everybody Like Compliments?" A dollar means less to a millionaire than it does to a pauper. And a compliment means less to someone who is used to being praised. If you are tracking extremely attractive Quarry or very accomplished Quarry, you must work harder and be more original in your compliments. Such people are accustomed to being admired, so they pooh-pooh early praise. A study showed that, although attractive people tend to discount early praise, physically less attractive people value it much more. 37 In fact, they're ravenous for your compliments. Trapped inside every plain-faced woman is a beautiful enchantress crying to be set free by your making her feel beautiful. Trapped inside every frog-faced man is a handsome prince waiting for you to kiss him with praise. TECHNIQUE #41: SHORT ON ASSETS? GO LONG ON PRAISE Attractive and accomplished people are accustomed to praise, so compliments often have less value on the open market. Seek original praise for popular Quarry. However, if your Quarry is not used to being praised, he or she is hungry for your words of appreciation, no matter how trite. Feed your Quarry's ego the appropriate diet and watch his or her love grow. Knee-Jerk Praise: "What You Just Did Was Fabulous" Here is a little pistol shot you must use with everyone whether her face is plain or pretty, whether his accomplishments are trivial or triumphant. I call it the knee-jerk compliment. There are crucial moments when, if you don't offer a compliment, you will offend your Quarry. If he or she has just finished an accomplishment (made a big sale, taken a final bow after a performance, successfully negotiated a deal, cooked a great meal), make sure the very first words out of your mouth relate to that just-completed triumph. At that moment, your Quarry is sure to have only one raging question in his or her mind: "How'd I do?" If you don't want to lose love points, you must first give your Quarry an instantaneous knee-jerk compliment. A friend once told me how disappointed he was in his girlfriend's reaction to a speech he gave for his industry's convention. Right after his talk, which had been a great success, he strutted back amidst the applause to take his seat next to his significant other. The first thing she said to him was, "Wave to Bill and Sue back there. We didn't know they were going to be here." Boom! What a letdown. Where was his well-deserved compliment? A few moments later she did say, "You gave a great speech, sweetie," but it was too late. What a difference if she had first complimented his speech and then said, "By the way . . ."
TECHNIQUE #42: THE KNEE-JERK COMPLIMENT After your Quarry's accomplishment, compliment immediately. The first syllables you utter must be the flattering answer to the unasked question, "How'd I do?" One last caution on the knee-jerk compliment. Be sure your compliment shoots high enough. When in doubt, aim even higher. "Good job" might come across as insulting if he thought he'd done a great job. "Nice presentation" could be a real disappointment if she thought she'd made a terrific presentation. Have the First Laugh To a comedian, your face is just one of many bobbing around in the sea facing him in the club. As he delivers each punch line, you suspect he's unaware of who starts the trickle, or the riptide, of laughter. Not so! As a speaker, I guarantee you that every one of my colleagues knows precisely who inaugurated the laughter, precisely how long after the punchline was delivered, and precisely how enthusiastically they laughed. Huntresses, so it is with most men, even if they're just telling a joke to a few friends. TECHNIQUE #43 (ESPECIALLY FOR HUNTRESSES): HAVE THE FIRST LAUGH Huntresses, it is with embarrassment that I offer you this obvious technique, but leaving it out would be a grave sin of omission. Be the first to laugh at his jokes, and laugh the longest. Many a Huntress who had the first laugh when her Quarry made a joke has had the last as she waltzed off to the altar with him.
Lovers Give Each Other Pet Names By now you are ready for another tender trap to create intimacy with your Quarry and make him or her feel like the center of the universe. Many of us, when we were kids, had nicknames. Lots of today's Roberts were once called Bobby. Many Elizabeths were once little Betsy. Many Johns were Johnny, and Sues were Suzie. Did you have a kid name? I did. My mother and all the other kids called me "Leilie." That remained my official designation until I decided it wasn't respectable-sounding enough for the young professional I aspired to be. So, along with my intended personality change, came a name change. I insisted everyone call me Leil. I have one friend from my childhood days, Rick, who resisted the change and to this day calls me Leilie. Whenever I hear a voice on the phone asking to speak to Leilie, my heart thumps with childhood memories. The emotions that I feel upon hearing Leilie get transferred to Rick, and I'm sure the fact that Rick (I call him Ricky) calls me Leilie is one factor in our friendship lasting so long. Childhood experiences and childhood names have a strong subliminal effect. Like any weapon, however, this one could backfire. If your Quarry had an unhappy childhood, hearing an old nickname might invoke horrible memories. If Walter's parents were always dumping on him, your calling him Wally could drive him up the wall. If Elizabeth was a battered child, just the name Lizzie could make her go bonkers. Test market the pet name on your Quarry first. However, if your Quarry had a happy childhood, using a pet name deepens intimacy, and it shoots a little PEA through his or her veins every time you say that name. TECHNIQUE #44: CONFER PET-NAME STATUS If it's appropriate, ask your Quarry what he or she was called as a kid. If you sense that your Quarry likes that pet name, say, "Oh, I love it! Do you mind if I call you that?" When Your Quarry Praises You One day I was browsing in a bookstore for a book on compliments. Nowhere to be found! But there was a big fat one of several thousand insults, "for all occasions" it proclaimed. It was full of supposedly hilarious insults like, "Hey, you're so ugly you have to have your x-rays retouched," or guaranteed lines like, "You look much better without my glasses." Guaranteed, yes, to get you a cheap laugh, but not to make someone fall in love with you. Many of us, even if we would never dream of delivering a hackneyed line like that, still inadvertently insult our Quarry when he or she compliments us. Americans are beastly at giving compliments—and receiving them. It's a national characteristic. They simply stammer a weak thank-you. Worse, they say, "Oh, it was just luck." This lukewarm reaction does nothing to make your Quarry feel good for complimenting you. Furthermore, if you mumble "Not really" or attribute your success to "luck," you are indirectly insulting your Quarry's powers of perception. After getting no positive feedback, your Quarry will quit complimenting you. Whenever your Quarry praises you, don't just say, "Oh, shucks," or even, as Amy Vanderbilt suggests, "Thank you." Go Amy one step better. Reflect the sunshine of the compliment right back on the giver. Quickly murmur, "That's very kind of you," or "How sweet of you to notice.'' The French do it regularly. Instead of saying merci (thank you), the gracious ones murmur ''C'est gentil" (loosely translated, "That's kind of you"). If someone hurls a boomerang, it does an almost 180-degree turn and comes right back at the thrower. I call the technique of reflecting the compliment back Boomeranging. Here are some examples of boomeranging: How's your family? "Oh, they're great. Thanks for asking." How was your vacation? "Thanks, you remembered! [Show you are obviously impressed that they did.] Yeah, I really had a great time." Gee, I like your new hairstyle. "Oh, thanks for noticing. Yes, I found a great new hairdresser." TECHNIQUE #45: BOOMERANGING When your Quarry compliments you or asks you about anything you enjoy talking about, boomerang the good feelings back. Thank him or her for asking or noticing. Stamp out childish embarrassment and let your big smile show your Quarry you appreciated the compliment. When you boomerang, your Quarry will feel good for having praised you. Human animals, ever in pursuit of good feelings, will conjure up some more good thoughts about you to make themselves feel good. The more good thoughts your Quarry has about you, the more twigs it puts on the fire of love.

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