AFTER the one grand golden rule, "Do unto others as we would that others should do unto us," which should always be our guide in our intercourse with humanity, there are some little "tricks of the trade" in the art of being agreeable.
In suggesting them, it may seem like advocating the broadest kind of deceit, yet in heeding them, re sults would be justification. When our little boats commence knocking against the projecting rocks of this world, the first thing we learn is, that to steer clear of them we must forget ourselves; that many times there is very close connection between an honest opinion and rudeness; that where we intended to be frank and sincere, we have been cruelly blunt. We are soon taught if we would have our society sought for, it is necessary that our own personalities sink into oblivion. We soon learn the truth of the words, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone." To be a success socially, you must be ever ready with a smile and with your sympathy for the woes of others, but never a hint that your own heartaches seem more than you can endure. You must have no tears to shed, no ears to hear where others would wound, no heart to ache. Leaving the unpleasant things unsaid, never forget to say the pleasant, even if it verge on flattery. The human heart, in either men or women, is touched by a compliment when a grain of truth is recog nized. We can indignantly deny we are susceptible to flattery--but what is it Brutus says in speaking of Caesar? "But when I tell him he hates flatterers, he says he does, being then most flattered.'
While open flattery may be coarse and ill bred, there are many delicate ways of giving a compliment, and when done in the right way it never fails to please. I have made the remark before in these pages that one of the arts in being "fascinating" consisted quite as much in being a good listener as a good talker. It is an accomplishment that comparatively few possess, and it requires so little effort.
Where is the man that is not flattered by the rapt attention given to what he considers his words of wisdom? for, let me whisper it to you, men are much more susceptible to flattery than women. And the queer part of it is, they never look upon it as flattery--simply proper respect shown to their superiority. It is as sure an avenue to the heart as the one Owen Meredith suggests so musically in "Lucile." If you can adroitly pay a man a compliment with just a shade of honesty in it, never neglect to do so. They do not object to hearing one that is not so very honest. If honest, it pleases them to know they are appreciated; if not, they congratulate themselves that they have imposed upon you. No matter how quickly they see through our little shams, it would never do to let them know theirs are discovered.
It is hard to acknowledge it, but there are women addicted to little shams. They have a preconceived idea of what men like and admire, and they proceed to exert themselves to convince the eligible party he has at last met his ideal. When as a matter of fact men have no ideals, or if they have, they generally find themselves in love with some one entirely different. The most successful woman socially is the one perfectly free from false pride, false modesty, prudery, or affectation of any description. The only affectation allowable in making yourself agreeable to the "dear delightful" is not to let them know just how keen, bright and intelligent you really are. Be sparkling, be cheery, be entertaining, but all the time acknowledge tacitly that you consider them the superior being, their judgment to be appealed to, and that you look to them for protection and guidance. Of course the proper thing for me to say is that it is our duty to elevate the standard of conversation and that we should strive to inspire respect for intellectual ability, etc., etc. It is a deplorable fact that women who would force recognition of their intellectual powers are never favorites in general society, on the contrary, pretty doll-faced women without an ounce of sense or brain quite as often attract men of brilliancy and position. It is hard to explain why it is so. It may rest them to loosen the tension of their own brain power, and it is a part of man nature to extend sympathy and love to the women utterly incapable of taking care of themselves. Such women appeal to the protection that is in the makeup of every man. All they ask in return is that she be pretty, well dressed and agreeable. After a while they realize there is a nameless sort of disappointment creeping into their lives, but the wife is shielded from care, and her life is rose-colored to the end.