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Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott
Brownnoser, suck up, and backslapper are just a few of the monikers folks at work get when they have the boss mesmerized and delivering whatever they want. Coworkers may like to point out a yes-man’s flaws and make a lot of noise about his behavior, but that doesn’t stop a teacher’s pet from receiving special attention and perks. Rather than getting angry about her techniques, it may be beneficial to take a look at what she’s doing from a strategic perspective. Here are a few things to consider:
1) Throwing an occasional compliment your boss’s way or being the first to volunteer on a project she cares about can get you what you want down the road. If you have
your sights set on leading the next big assignment, your enthusiasm for a less than exciting task now is a good way to talk about your commitment later.
2) People help people they like. If you’d like to map out a successful career path, who better to help you get there than your boss? She most likely has the ear of other managers and execs so it makes sense to have her on your side. Demonstrating that you’ve got her back today shows her how she can have yours when you need it most.
3) It’s easier to get work done when you’re able to discuss the pros and cons freely–and you can do that when the boss feels good about you. If you’re only complaining, she may see your critiques as just another string of negativity and treat you like the boy who called wolf. If she knows that you approach things with balance and include praise with your criticisms, you may spend less time convincing her to try it your way.
A word of caution, though. The art of sucking up should be about you and others. If you’re not willing to help others along the way and help your boss achieve her goals, then
your self-serving behavior could backfire. Absolutely do not ostracize others, step on backs, say only negative things about your peers, or push them out of the way. That behavior isn’t sucking up; it’s just plain sucky.
Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies. She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success. Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.
Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways. “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity. Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.
Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington. She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes. Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm. Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.
Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on www.amazon.com, www.dummies.com, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.
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