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How to Kiss Up Effectively

How to kiss upThe office, as even the most inexperienced of us know, isn't really a pure meritocracy. Often times how you sell your work is just as important as the quality of the work itself, and personal relationships play an outsize part in who advances and who doesn't. But now business school professors have given us proof of what we've always suspected -- flattery pays.

Management profs from the Kellogg School and the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business interviewed managers and CEOs at top US businesses and determined that brown nosing is an effective career strategy, but only if you do it right. So how can you kiss up effectively? The professors suggest seven techniques:

  • Framing flattery as advice seeking: i.e. "How were you able to close that deal so successfully?"
  • Arguing prior to conforming: Instead of agreeing immediately, a person will yield before accepting his/her manager's opinion (i.e. "At first, I didn't see your point but it makes total sense now. You've convinced me.").
  • Complimenting manager to his/her friends.
  • Framing flattery as likely to make manager uncomfortable: i.e. "I don't want to embarrass you but your presentation was really top-notch. Better than most I've seen."
  • Engaging in value conformity prior to flattery or opinion conformity: Expressing values or morals which are held by one's manager (i.e. "I'm the same way. I believe we should increase minimum wage.").
  • Conforming to opinions expressed by one's manager to a third party: Covertly learning of manager's opinion(s) from his/her contacts, and then conforming with opinion(s) in conversations with manager.
  • Referencing social affiliations held in common with one's manager prior to flattery or opinion conformity: i.e. "I watched the Republican National Convention last night. The keynote presented some great points."
Plus, as further evidence that academics often prove things we all already knew anyway, the study also confirmed that "managers and directors who have a background in politics, law or sales are significantly more likely to engage in sophisticated forms of ingratiation." Really, salespeople, lawyers and politicians are sophisticated persuaders? Shocking.
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