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Fawn at your own risk

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

You talk to your boss differently than you talk to everyone else. That’s normal. But there’s a fine line between sounding deferential and fawning like a lamb.

Senior executives tend to distrust “apple polishers” who prefer flattery to straightforward communication. They’re wary of overly agreeable subordinates who say, “You’re so right” and “That’s just what I was thinking.”

If you agree with the boss, say so. But look for opportunities to play devil’s advocate or provide more information to strengthen decision-making.

Use phrases such as, “There’s another factor to consider” or “If we see this from all sides, it opens up other perspectives.” Then make a substantive comment that allows the boss to broaden his or her outlook.

Some bosses will preface their opinions by saying, “I’m really excited about this idea I came up with.” It’s fine to respond by sharing their enthusiasm, but don’t stop there. Look for ways to strengthen their proposal rather than merely praise their brilliance.

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