Sucking Up Subtly

I thought of so many ways to better phrase it: “creating friendly relationships”, “complimenting effectively”, but let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? This post is about sucking up to your superiors, whether its in work or other personal relationships.

Having worked in a few ‘management’ type roles, I can honestly say that there are few things more irritating than people who suck up to you blindly, throwing around thoughtless compliments and praise like its an ego-building parade. This type of flattery is unwarranted, and usually unwanted. Conversely, when people are able to show their appreciation towards their superiors effectively, the effects can be profound. So what is the secret to sucking up subtly?

The thing that really matters, is that the compliments must be genuine. Do not say something impresses you if it doesn’t – your superiors likely know its not impressive, and pointing it out will do more harm than good. Instead, really think about what it is that you admire or like about the other person – do they think ahead? Are they putting in a lot of effort towards something at the moment? Is there a recent accomplishment that they are proud of? Find something small and specific, and compliment them on that. For example, one of my employees once told me “I love how you phrase things with a compliment first, and then tell us where we’re going wrong. I appreciate that you try not to make us feel bad about our mistakes”. It was a simple observation, but the fact that the employee had picked up on that – especially because its something I actively have worked on – meant a lot to me.

Being a genuine “suck up” – the kind who does anything to please someone, who’s dedication is unwavering and obsessive – is never a good thing; it will do nothing but make your co-workers or friends irritated. Instead, if you want someone in an authority position to like you, think about that person’s goals and do your best to align with them. For example, if the person you are trying to “suck up” to is your partner’s mom – her goal is likely to find someone who will love her child through thick and thin – so show up and prove yourself as that person. There is no need to agree with everything she says, bring her flowers and take knitting classes together, you just need to show that what is important to her is important to you. Its that simple.

So save the money you might have spent on lavish gifts, and save your efforts for worthier causes. Focus on finding genuine appreciation for the other person, and a common goal that unites you, and watch a relationship flower organically.

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