Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 29:5
"A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps"
This proverb is meant to be a warning. When you get in the presence of someone who is always praising you for things that are not true or overblowing your positive qualities, then there is a catch coming.
Flattery is the Hebrew word halaq which means smooth. It is always negative when used in connection with speaking. It is making smooth one’s speech to puff up others or oneself. It originally had the idea of making metal smooth. This idea carries over and refers to using the tongue to smooth over any rough spots and paint yourself or another as much better than you/they are.
The question in this proverb is who is the net being spread for? Is it the one who flatters who is spreading a net for himself, or is the one who flatters spreading a net for the person they are flattering? I would take the view that the one who flatters is spreading a net for the person who is being flattered. This is a warning. There is always a catch when someone is treating you in this way. There is a difference between focusing on the positive and flattery. Flattery is over the top or has no basis in truth. Beware of those who treat you this way; there is a net being spread. You are trying to be trapped.
When salesmen do this, they want a sale. When politicians do this, they want your votes or money. When con men do this, they want to swindle you out of money, property, or valuables.