Fine Flattery statements are designed to flatter the client in a subtle way likely to win agreement. Usually, the formula involves the client being compared to "people in general" or "most of those around you", and being declared a slight but significant improvement over them. Consider this bad example:
"You are wonderfully honest!"
This is certainly flattering, and it may even be true, but it is a very poor piece of cold reading. The first problem is that it looks and sounds like pure flattery, because that is all it is. Most people are suspicious of this kind of blatant flattery and reject it out of hand. Secondly, it lacks any relevance to the psychic system which is - in theory - being used. Thirdly, it omits the reference to other people. It is just too dull to sound as if it carries any great insight.
The same statement can easily be turned into a successful piece of Fine Flattery. Suppose the psychic has been given a watch that belongs to someone, and is giving a psychometric reading (a character reading supposedly based on an article owned or used by the client). It might go something like this:
"What I sense here is that the owner of this article is someone who can generally be trusted. I'd say perhaps this person is that little bit more honest and conscientious than many people tend to be. Not a saint, not perfect, but let's just say that when it really matters, this is someone who does understand the importance of being trustworthy. I feel an energy suggesting this person has good values which they try to live up to, although it has to be said they perhaps don't always succeed."
This entire spiel amounts to "You're basically honest". However, it sounds as if it is psychic in nature, full of insight, and a perceptive statement about a specific individual.
Honesty is a good characteristic to use as the basis for a Fine Flattery element, since the vast majority of people are inclined to think of themselves as honest. Several other personality traits can be used in the same way. Among the more reliable are:
- being hard-working and diligent
- warm and loving
I must give special mention to two characteristics which are Fine Flattery gold dust. They always work, always impress, and can carry a thin reading a long way. I have learned to keep them in reserve at all times, like emergency parachutes. Here they are:
- being wise in the ways of the world, a wisdom gained through hard experience rather than 'book learning'
- knowing how to be a good friend
Just for the sake of another example, here is how a spirit medium might apply the same element. Suppose that the medium is, so she pretends, receiving messages from a deceased relative, and that the Fine Flattery is based on "You are wise". It might come out sounding something like this:
"... I have your late sister with me now. She tells me she wants you to know that she always admired you, even if she didn't always express it well. She tells me that you are... wait, it's coming through... yes, I see, she says you are in many ways more shrewd, or perceptive, than people might think. She says she always thought of you as quite a wise person, not necessarily to do with book-learning and examinations. She's telling me she means wise in the ways of the world, and in ways that can't be said of everyone. She's laughing a little now, because she says this is wisdom that you have sometimes had to learn the hard way! She says you are intelligent enough to see that wisdom comes in many forms."
A cute touch is to flatter the client in ways which ease the cold reading process itself. For example, if the psychic flatters the client as being very "open-minded", this increases the chances that the client will accept the reality of psychic ability in general.
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