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Six Ways to “Suck Up” Without “Brown-Nosing”


I thought I could offer some advice to those still working. How to succeed in business without trying, one might say. I recall receiving regular emails from my former boss with a pic of me with a brown nose, and it triggered my thoughts on how one could “suck up to their boss” in a sincere manner. So, here are my thoughts on doing just that, in my first of hopefully many articles on the subject of office politics.

1. Kids always win

If your boss has children, bring them up in conversation. Everyone loves to talk about their children, and it develops a personal connection. If you praise their children, it’s indirectly praising your boss for their abilities as a good parent and ultimately a good boss.

2. Relevant Industry News

Another recommendation is to send your boss an email that contains industry news. It alerts them that your head is in the game. It says you are ambitious, serious about moving up in the company and career minded.  

3. Share the Boss’s Opinion

How do you do that, you ask? Well, miss a meeting by accident and then ask a coworker what was discussed. Then get a moment with the boss alone and offer some insight into your thoughts on the subject matter discussed. They will assume, since they know you were not at the meeting, that you share the same opinion. Of course, hopefully you do agree with the boss on the subject matter, or it might be construed as insincere.

4. Complimentary Complimenting

Then there’s the approach of complimenting. You can’t always compliment your boss directly, as everyone is going to assume you are a “brown-noser.” But you can complement your boss through their friend or business associate, who will surely mention the flattering comment to your boss. That will earn you some points.


What happens when you make a mistake? Try to cover it up, point the finger at a coworker for complicity, or just be honest? Admit it! A mistake has been made, it’s your fault, no excuses. The sooner you identify and admit the error, the sooner you can correct it. Honesty is a key trait the majority of bosses I’ve worked for have appreciated. More importantly, after you admit the mistake, make sure to follow it up with a comment on how you’ll avoid making that same mistake twice, demonstrating you’ve learned from that error.

6. Volunteer

Lastly, volunteer to take the lead on a project. Volunteering shows initiative and leadership skills. It might not be your job, but you are a team player, willing to pitch in and offer assistance. It will not go unnoticed by the boss.

Of course, these suggestions are for the sincere employee, because your boss cannot be fooled.  Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on me, as the saying goes. If your boss tags you as a brown-noser and believes you are sucking up solely for personal gain, the jig is up. Remember that flattery is powerful. Most of us use it every day to ingratiate ourselves with others, be it a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, teacher, in-law, etc. So why not the boss?