Mmm... yeahh... oh yeah, that feels really good.... yeah.... mmhh? Oh, excuse me. You just interrupted me as I was enjoying a good and nourishing ego massage from Myne. Ego massage, you wonder? Should I even be admitting this in public?
Hi there, this is Atala. Let me step back a bit and answer the question for those of you who are wondering: what exactly is ego massaging? Simply put, it is the act of making someone feel better about themselves with the power of words aka giving compliments. It is about making them feel more confident, more optimistic and filled with more positive aspirations by making utterances that resonate with their ego.
In fact, ego massaging is part and parcel of our culture, right from the moment we are born - we are given positive, aspirational names such we are guaranteed to get a mini ego-massage every time someone calls our name.
So if this is what ego massaging can achieve, why is it condemned at all? Well, the problem is that there is a right and a wrong way to go about ego-massaging. This is why ego-massaging is an art - it is not for the unskilled person who thinks that it is about opening their mouth and uttering complimentary words. Oh, no. On the contrary, a skilful ego-massager will know the following:
He will take time to understand the nature of the ego he is massaging. Just as we have different personalities, different tastes and differing backgrounds, so also we have differing egos. Some egos are the size of a pea and require little and infrequent massaging; some some, at size of a watermelon, are much more 'high maintenance'. Some egos are as smooth as silk and respond easily to the gentlest of massages; others are as rough as high grade sandpaper and should be massaged with care. So the skilled ego massager knows that words of praise that might suit one ego at a particular time might be a complete turn off to another, and he will take time to observe the responses of the ego to gentle probing before deciding to 'go in deep'.
He will offer sincere compliments of praiseworthy qualities in the ego-massagee. I'll state this upfront now: Insincere flattery is NOT ego-massaging. Only the person in desperate need of an ego-massage will appreciate being told he is in fantastic health when he weighs over 20 stone; in fact, that comment is in danger of being viewed as sarcastic.
So the expert ego-massager will take time to really understand the ego-massagee. He will not just praise the ego-massagee for having this or showing that, but he will cite specific instances where he has observed this happening. In fact, the skilled ego-massager will take care to cite instances that the ego-massagee did not even know that anyone was paying attention to - and this offers an additional boost to the massaging, as it tells the massagee that he is so important that people pay attention even to the minor things he does.
I should point out here that there are three kinds of praiseworthy qualities: the ones the the ego-massagee knows about and appreciates, the ones he knows about but does not appreciate and the ones he does not even know about. The good ego-massager will identify the first type fairly quickly; the great ego-massager will identify the second type of qualities, and convince the massagee why he should appreciate them; but the truly superior ego-massager will dig deep down into the psyche of the massagee and unearth the third type before polishing it and presenting it to the massagee in the form of a deep, stimulating massage.
He will time his ego-massages appropriately. The skilful ego-massager understands that the effect of an ego-massage is amplified if it is delivered when the massagee is prepared to receive it. Unlike the charlatans who go about braying out praises at full volume, irrespective of the occasion, he will wait until the massagee is in need of an boost to his confidence, or when he is facing discouragement, or simply when he is relaxed enough to be receptive to sincere compliments.
So there are some of the hallmarks of a skilful ego-massager. In fact, there are some ego-massagers that are so skilful that you aren't even aware that your ego has been massaged until long after they're gone... and the warm glow you feel afterwards stays for you with days.
On the other hand, as I mentioned in passing, there are those quacks who peddle compliments like crack cocaine to those who display a disposition to entertain any kind of ego-massaging, no matter how insincere it may be. Such a situation can get out of hand, where the ego-massagee begins to live in a fantasy world in which he has all the desirable qualities as described by quack massager - and because he likes it in this world, he is in constant need of continuous quack compliments to perpetuate this fantasy. I think that this is what may be going on in the corridors of power in Nigeria, where powerful men surround themselves with a coterie of quack sycophants to massage their ever expanding egos (which I guess must be the size of Zuma Rock).
The bigger problem with this kind of quack massaging is that the massagee believes so strongly that he has the abilities described that he attempts to act them out. Now I'm a big believer in positive thinking - but ain't no amount of positive thinking that can make a chicken fly or an ant lift an elephant. And so it is with these hapless massagees - they end up inflicting their ineptitude on others who unfortunately bear the brunt of a poorly implemented action or policy.
But I must not dwell on the downside of ego-massaging. The reality is that done right, giving compliments is a healthy and important part of our human interaction. It is the lubricant that keeps the wheels of human discourse turning. So as you finish reading this article, I charge you to spread the good vibrations amongst your fellow man by sincerely complimenting them for something they have said or done.
I exhort you to ask the question - "Have I massaged someone's ego today?". If not, you can start by massaging mine by telling me how much you enjoyed this fantastic article...