CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 15, 2014
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Strategies to Help you Suck up Your way to Success

We’ve all come across people that love nothing more than to brown nose their boss or other influential people at work.  These people will seemingly do whatever it takes to get ahead in their career, including leaving their dignity at the door when they come to work each morning.

As annoying as it is to us, the sad reality is that schmoozing up to the boss has been shown to work.  A study conducted by researchers at Kellogg Business School identified a series of types of brown nosing that have been shown to be particularly effective.

Past research has demonstrated the effects of corporate leaders taking part in ingratiation and persuasion tactics, however, our study is the first to look at the effectiveness of specific tactics in increasing the likelihood of garnering board appointments at other firms, as well as which types of executives are most likely to effectively engage these tactics,” they say.

The research identified seven distinct forms of sucking up that they proved to be gold when it came to earning a promotion or pay-rise.

1. Giving flatter as advice

This is an easy and common one in any workplace.  It involves the suck up posing a question of their target as a way of flattering them about their enormous intellect.  You know?  Something like "gee boss, how were you able to close that deal so successfully?".

2. Having a fake argument

In this one, the brown nose doesn’t want to come across as too obvious, so they will pretend to have a contrary point of view to begin with, before eventually accepting his or her manager’s opinion.  It often goes something like "Hmm, I didn’t see your point of view to begin with, but you’ve convinced me now."

3. Brown nosing to their social network

This third one is a particularly sneaky one as you’re not actually sucking up to the boss themselves, but rather to their colleagues and friends.  The plan of course is for your compliments to eventually find their way back to your boss and ingratiate you with them.

4. The bashful compliment

No one likes a big head, so receiving compliments in a bashful manner can often be quite a positive trait.  The 4th method of sucking up taps into this in a big way.  It involves positioning your compliment as something that might be embarrassing.  For instance "I don’t want to embarrass you, but that presentation was first-class.  One of the best I’ve ever seen...".

5. Conforming to values

Each of us have various values and standards that define us as people, and your boss will certainly be no different.  The 5th form of schmoozing will see you mirror the values of morals of your boss.  So, for instance, you might express support for raising the minimum wage or investing more in healthcare.

6. Social conformity

We mentioned earlier about utilising your boss’s social network to suck up to them, and this 6th approach works in a similar way.  Rather than finding out your boss’s opinions directly from the horse’s mouth, this approach requires you to do so via their contacts.  Armed with this information, you can then conform with those opinions when you converse directly with your boss.

7. Two peas in a pod

This one is relatively easy, especially with so many of us sharing things on social networks about our lives and interests.  It will see you mentioning in passing an affiliation or interest that your boss has.  Suffice to say, a mixture of obscurity and importance are keys to success here.  I mean everyone has been watching the World Cup, so talking about that won’t have as much impact as the local pet rescue centre or grassroots political campaign.

Have you ever come across any of these strategies yourself?  Would you consider using any in your own career? Please have your say.

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