Have a Little More Blarney in Your Vocabulary!
7 steps to help you improve your blarney
Posted Aug 09, 2016
How would you feel if someone accused you of too much “blarney”? Would you immediately think they said you were lying, or embellishing the truth? Would you think they accused you of being false and fake? The true meaning of the word blarney, coming from the world famous Blarney Stone and Blarney Castle in Ireland, is actually “Flattery designed to gain favor.” The definition doesn’t say it is false flattery, or insincere flattery; it says it is flattery designed to gain favor. When someone flatters you, the natural reaction is to feel good about it. You may walk taller, smile broader and have a spring in your step when someone has given you a (sincere) compliment.
Unfortunately, too many times throughout the day people face criticism and “productive feedback” rather than the blessing of flattery. People may rush to tell you what you need to do differently, or what you have done wrong, and they may just assume you know all of the things that are wonderful about yourself! And complimenting people can seem silly when you live in a world where hate crimes and negativity seem more rampant all of the time. A recent study published in February of 2016 showed hate crimes on the rise, and of course you often need look no further than the local news to find depressing and negative stories.
So why advocate for a little bit of blarney? Because in a time where things seem bleak and negative, a verbal uplift can be just what you need to brighten the day and keep you motivated enough to compliment the next person you see. Those random acts of kindness do multiply and when you are feeling good, well – you might pass along those good feelings to the next person you see.
But you don’t want to offer blarney that isn’t real. It needs to be authentic and applicable to the person you give it to. What steps do you want to consider taking to pass along that “gift of eloquence” and “gift of gab” that kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to impart?
- Be diligent and thoughtful about giving a compliment to someone. Actually commit to yourself as you start the day, or you finish reading this blog, or you go to the dinner table tonight or into work tomorrow that you will find someone to offer a sincere compliment to. If you focus your intention on doing it, it will be easier than trying to remember you were supposed to find someone to be nice to today!
- Don’t water the compliment down with a “but…”. “Your sweater is very pretty…. But isn’t it a little warm to be wearing one?” In speech, the tendency can be to follow a positive comment with something negative so that the person doesn’t get a big head or something. This obviously defeats the purpose of positive blarney. Make sure when you give the compliment, you stop: “That sweater is a lovely shade and really matches your eyes – the blue color is very striking on you.”
- Be aware of who, what, and how you compliment someone. If you are a young man working for an older woman, you might not want to use the sweater and eyes example in #2 above, just as a thought. If the compliment could be perceived as inappropriate, or sexual in nature, or out of touch with the culture or the times, then pick something else. If you aren’t sure of the appropriateness of saying something to someone, best not to say it. You are trying to make someone’s day, not upset them, so proceed with caution.
- Be as specific as you can be. A colleague just delivered a great presentation – make notes of specific things you liked that they did: “When you were covering the financial conditions you made it interesting and informative. I learned something from what you said.” Parents learn this with children. Instead of “You were such a good boy”, give the specifics of why and how he was a good boy. The more specific you can be, the more believable your compliment is.
- Don’t expect anything in return. The likelihood is that karma will surround you and you will find yourself having a better day and feeling generally happier once you sincerely compliment someone else and they respond positively. However, that’s not guaranteed, so give the compliment expecting nothing in return.
- Expect any sort of response from the person you have complimented. Many people become suspicious when someone compliments them (the old “blarney” suspicion of “What do you want from me….?”) or they may react negatively; “This old sweater? I’ve had it for years and I hate the color!” You can’t control the reaction on the other side. Many people have grown up in environments where compliments were few and far between, so they may be uncomfortable with receiving them for their own reasons.
- Smile and be sincere. Offer the compliment and the positive insight with a sincere tone of voice and a genuine smile on your face. Believe that you are in charge of making someone’s day, and set out with the most positive and optimistic intention to do so.
And, if all else fails, next time you’re in Ireland be sure to kiss the Blarney Stone!