It’s important to know the difference.
I found the following comparison while searching the web:
Flattery is the use of truths, half-truths or lies to secure something beneficial for ourselves. Encouragement is the use of truth to build-up someone else. In other words, flattery and encouragement differ in integrity and intention. The flatterer will use whatever is needed (truth, half-truth, lies) to get what he wants. The encourager only uses truth to build-up another person. (As Grace Extends)
Liars hate their victims; flatterers sabotage trust. Proverbs 26:28
5 Differences Between Flattery and Encouragement
1. Motive – There is one thought behind every shallow tidbit of flattery – what’s in it for me. Selfishness is the source of flattery.
2. Sincerity – Because of their selfish motives, flatterers are insincere.
“Flattery is a lie covered in a bed of flowery words.” ~ Deborah Smith Pegues, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue
A true encourager compliments with sincerity. i.e. I appreciate how you ____________. I like the way you ___________. Your ____________ looks lovely. You are very good at _______________.
3. Truth – Flatterers say whatever it takes (distort, exaggerate . . . lie) to charm people and win their favor. Encouragers speak the truth without exaggeration. They are gentle and kind if the truth is unflattering. They look for ways to honestly help others experience God’s courage, strength, and hope. Encouragers want God to receive glory from their encouragement.
4. Audience – An encourager speaks highly of people even when they’re not there. Encouragers do not betray, gossip, or share personal information. Encouragers have integrity. They are authentic and trustworthy.
5. Faith – Flatterers believe they must manipulate others through words to earn their favor. Encouragers trust God to bless them, and want to bless others in return.
Appreciate every compliment. Give compliments.
But take yourself out of the compliment equation. Check your motive, sincerity, honesty, and your audience. Pray for God to increase your faith as you spend time with Him.
Flatterers look like friends just as wolves resemble dogs. Treachery may lurk in honeyed words — Danish proverb
You may have friends who are flatterers. People who manipulate you with sweet words to get what they want. I’m not suggesting you boot them to the curb; just remember to pray for wisdom to protect your heart and mind when you are with them.
Who are you . . . a flatterer or an encourager?