Skip to content

How to suck up to your boss

March 14, 2008

I came across an interesting article in Forbes the other day about how to suck up to your boss. Interesting because in America they think sucking up is an Art. Oh well. I guess their tips won’t work in India! πŸ™‚ Here it’s a Science. πŸ˜€
Here’s my adaptation of their tips…

They (Forbes) said: Speak your boss’ language. Is your boss a huge sports fan? Learn sports metaphors and incorporate them into your conversations about work. You might say, “Gee boss, wasn’t it Wayne Gretzky who said we shouldn’t skate to where the puck is, but where it’s going to be?” Your boss will appreciate the effort.
Workable version (for India): Speaking isn’t enough. Do your homework and find out what your boss does in his leisure time…does he see cricket or is he fond of the movies? If the former buy him tickets to his favorite game. And if the latter, get hold of tickets to a premiere of a movie which has his favorite actress attending. But be subtle. Have the tickets delivered quietly to his home, preferably by hand, but don’t forget the hand-written note with your name prominently underneath.

They said: Make everything seem like it’s the boss’ idea. Instead of simply pitching the boss an idea, say something like, “Thanks for your guidance on that issue. As a result of your direction, here’s how I’d like to handle it.” That makes it seem like this bright idea you have is actually his.
Workable version: Never articulate any of your ideas because the fact that you get ideas at all (even if inspired by your boss) will sound threatening. In fact, you should avoid using the word ‘I’, and never ever even imply that you know how to handle the situation. You could perhaps say “How do you suggest we go about it sir?”

They said: Avoid gratuitous compliments. No need to gush over the boss’ new outfit. Instead, use compliments strategically. For instance, “That was a great idea you mentioned the other day. Here’s how I think we can execute it.”
Workable version: Never avoid gratuitous compliments. Make sure they are used strategically..which means in public…as it’s important that everyone knows that the boss has supporters, a fan club, chamchas. The more you demean yourself, the better example you set for others to do the same. You need to compliment him on his tie on a regular basis, his taste in the office dΓ©cor or his taste in cars or overall his intelligence, wit and acumen. Think up a compliment everyday.

They said: Give the boss what he or she wants. If your boss is detailed and needs all your work to be the same, then do it. Don’t waste time by complaining…
Workable version: Sure, give the boss what he or she wants. In addition, praise his style of functioning and mention that his predecessor was useless, that his work stank, and it was affecting everyone’s performance and the company was on a downslide, until now.

They said: Ask permission before offering input. This is a way of showing deference to the boss. Before offering your opinion say, “Can I give you some ideas that might enhance this project?” Or, “Would you be open to a different opinion than the one we’re talking about?”
Offer your opinion this way: You told me yesterday that….do you still feel that way? I think it is a brilliant idea…
Workable version: Don’t offer your input unless specifically asked. And even then simply repeat what the boss has said. This is a way of showing deference to the boss.

They said: Match the boss’ energy. If your boss is short, sequential and fast, match that. If he or she is leisurely and ponderous, match that. You get it. Each time you match the boss’ energy, you build trust and strengthen the relationship.
Workable version: Sure, match your boss’ energy but this means that you need to be available when he wants to play a game of tennis with you, even if you are dog tired at the end of the day or even if it’s your anniversary. And if he wants you to join him for yoga at 6. a.m, grab the opportunity. Think of the thoughts you can plant in his mind just before you go into that meditation session.

They said: Respect the boss’ position. Remind him or her that you know who’s the boss. For instance, say, “I have these ideas, but I will defer to your decision.”
Workable version: Sure, respect the boss’ position. The only words you need to know to remind him who’s the boss are Yessir! Also perfect the science of nodding. I suggest about about 30 nods a minute. That will remind him who’s the boss.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2008 10:10 pm

    haha. good points. I hope ma boss doesnt read these. πŸ™‚

  2. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    March 14, 2008 10:34 pm


    Both the “they said” and the “workable version” sections sound antediluvian. πŸ™‚ I suggest you get a second opinion from some of the bright young sparks from the posh business schools. They are probably more au courant with the byzantine workings of modern organisations.

  3. March 14, 2008 10:45 pm

    Xylene, thanks,
    Vivek, anyone is welcome to add their wit here. in any case, these are just my own points from what I have seen around me, and not too long ago…maybe 5 years. didn’t they make you smile at all? and what’s this about posh business schools? πŸ™‚
    Humour is not a necessary criteria of business schools…nor is it restricted to the brightest people and certainly not those in posh schools! In fact I know some people of average intelligence who have the zaniest sense of humour and are great company! I know some brilliant people who are as dead as sleeping dogs when it comes to humour.
    Also I am trying to figure out why you called Forbes antediluvian.

  4. March 14, 2008 10:57 pm


    Why do you think it is a science? πŸ˜•

    I hate the idea of having to suck up to bosses.I feel that bosses (atleast the good ones) will treat you very well if you do not suck up to them,but concentrate on your work and deliver the results.

    Hey guys, this is humour! Is my stuff so bad that I need to say it? It’s also been tagged ‘humor.’! – Nita.

  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    March 14, 2008 11:01 pm


    Apparently I should have added many more smileys.

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    A Perfect ’10’. Is that better?

    That makes me feel better! Now I can have a good nights sleep! – Nita.

    P.S. To avoid any confusion now I have added the word ‘Forbes’ in brackets. – Nita.

  6. March 14, 2008 11:09 pm

    Oh no, Nita, I did understand it from the smilies and also the tone of the post,though I missed out on the tag,it is just that my kind of humour is slightly different πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

    Good Night ! Everybody !

  7. March 15, 2008 12:25 am

    This is unlike any of your other posts…how did you think of this? You are amazing! πŸ™‚

  8. vish permalink
    March 15, 2008 12:35 am

    Nita! How about doing some household things to please madam?! πŸ™‚

  9. March 15, 2008 7:33 am

    Mahendra, thanks. You have no idea how happy I am to see you here!

    Vish, not sure I get you.

  10. March 15, 2008 10:49 am

    Thank you Nita, I’m happy to be here as well! πŸ™‚

  11. March 15, 2008 12:53 pm

    To perfect the art of vigorous nodding in assent with the boss, practice, on your own time, with one of those bobble-head dolls. Refine your nodding technique; master the slow nod of assent that indicates your thoughtful understanding of the boss’s pearls of wisdom; also master the rapid nodding which indicates your level of enthusiasm with the boss’ suggestions. Be sensitive to nodding nouance. To overdo is to be transparently fawning.
    I think I’d rather like to be the boss, rather than a worker. πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ G

  12. March 16, 2008 11:51 am

    Suburban, thanks. πŸ™‚ However, overdoing is the order of the day here! πŸ˜€ The subtle strategy would be great for the west. πŸ™‚

  13. March 17, 2008 2:16 pm

    *Laughs*. Well tailored to the indian’s office scenario indeed. Good work Nita.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: