How to Deal With a Suck Up in the Workplace

Keep an eye on co-workers trying to curry favor with the boss.

Keep an eye on co-workers trying to curry favor with the boss.

Unless you're incredibly fortunate, your office probably has one of those co-workers people love to hate -- the office brown-noser. This person spends his time fawning over the office power brokers and trying to ingratiate himself with the boss. And while he may not deliberately try to make you and your other colleagues look bad, he manages to do it anyway -- and always with that smug grin you'd love to wipe right off his face. Prevent office bloodshed and keep your sanity by taking a few steps to keep the office suck-up from making your work life miserable.

Stand out in the office for the right reasons; not, like the suck-up, for flattering the boss, but for being productive and professional instead. Keep the lines of communication open with the boss and ensure she knows about your accomplishments and successes.

Make the boss look good through substantive contributions. You don't have to gush over her latest hairstyle or brilliant idea to make the boss like you. Instead, do your own work in such a way that it makes your supervisor look good to her peers and bosses. Contribute ideas and projects that she can polish and take forward. Offer to tackle a problem that's been plaguing her or the office for some time. She'll be thrilled to have it resolved -- finally -- and moreso because she didn't have to do it herself.

Ignore the suck-up as much as you can. Don't make him more insufferable by acknowledging what he's doing or -- even worse -- trying to mimic his brown-nosing behavior. Keep a quiet eye on him to make sure he's not actively undermining you, and call him on it if he does. Otherwise, just shut him out and don't give him the attention he so obviously craves.

Stage a group "intervention" if the suck-up's behavior is making everyone else look bad or if it becomes malicious and threatens to hurt professional reputations. If the suck-up is fairly obvious, chances are good that other co-workers share your annoyance with this obsequious "boss's pet" wannabe. Sit down in a conference room or other neutral location and let him know you're all tired of his antics and onto his tactics of trying to undermine the rest of you. Tell him that he needs to knock it off, or you'll approach the boss as a group with your complaints.

 

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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