I have a geographical ethnology of flattery. The thing about the NE or West Coast (and as usual add Chicago) is that immigrant culture predominates. However well known this fact is, it is nevertheless ever underappreciated. When wily fresh-off-the-boaters, or, for that matter, second generation immigrants raised with parental immigrant paranoia [I raise my hand in acknowledgment of the self-identification at this point] get a “well, you’re a fine gentle(wo)man of fine mien and fine manner” their immediate reaction in their world of uncertainty, drastic change, uncertain/unstable codes of behavior is “you’re selling me something or you’re fucking with me.” This reaction will be stronger the closer you are to the immigrant experience, but because of how strongly immigrant culture permeates these regions, it is fairly general as well.
In the South, people stick around, fresh-off-the-boaters are rarer, and because of this, the goal maintaining smooth functioning social networks over the long term (multiple generations) predominates. Flattery greases the machinery in this regard. People don’t take it as weird manipulation but as a general indication of good will/social network maintenance.