A kind of flattery
He looked blankly at his wristwatch. "I've done so much of the work for years," he said. His tones were measured, but he was staring fixedly at her shoulder, which felt a faint strain as though he were leaning against it. "Charlie is winsome. There's a kind of flattery, you understand, that he's adept at." He paused. She sensed that he was speaking without much thought and she knew he didn't believe much in the efficacy of words which were, after all, only for what could be said. The truth about people had not much to do with what they said about themselves, or what others said about them. She felt a rush of sympathy for him. He was not able to say what he meant.
"I know," she said quickly. "I know exactly what you mean."
Paula Fox, Desperate Characters