They say it’s imitation. I’m more offended when someone imitates me -like they’re trying to take something away from me. It goes back to those cruel kindergarten days when imitation would involve pointing fingers and laughing behind a hand held to your mouth while someone else walks your walk or talks your talk. I’m not saying I’ve never done it – we all have. It’s that feeling of belonging. The group/peer pressure that shows you, you’re part of “them”, “it”, whatever.
To me, the sincerest form of flattery is something unexpected. It’s different for every occasion: you can have a terrible day, scuffle to the grocery store in your sweat pants after a workout, feel disgusting and uncomfortable, and the guy who packs your groceries just smiles and says “I always love how fit you are”.
It’s something that you don’t expect of yourself. The way you never see yourself. Of course there are also those who always see themselves as perfect, but I also believe that it’s a facade. Nobody can be 100% happy and satisfied with themselves all the time. And if they are, I applaud them. At the same time, they have nothing more to strive for. This little nick (or big breach) of imperfection keeps you going. After you sat down, wallowed in self-pity or anger for someone who has done you wrong or something bad happened that you couldn’t control, you think about what you can do better.
It’s the person asking you if you want to step ahead in line since you’re by yourself. Or someone taking a genuine interest in how your day has been.
The woman who’s walking her dog on a busy street after work, and she’s smiling at you – not afraid or anxious to see if you’d approve or smile back. She just does it.
The guy taking a chance because he feels like it. He’ll take that new job, go on a date with a person who’s not his type or leave work early to be with his friends/ do something fun.
We all have expectations (which can be a killer, but also a motivator on how to do things better or differently in the future) – but acting without expecting anything in return (like a smile) and brightening someone’s day (by letting them cut in line or giving them the right of way on the freeway although it’s clearly not their turn) – that, to me, is the sincerest form of flattery.