How to Handle a Brownnoser

Hopefully brownnosing isn't quite this common in your office. Check out these corporate life pictures to learn more.
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They go by many names: suck-up, sycophant, toady, a**-kisser, brownnoser, yes-man. Show them someone in charge and they spring into action with "I agree," "That was brilliant," "Let me do that for you," "Love your shoes," annoying everyone else within earshot.

Brownnosing, for all its deeply negative connotation, is a time-tested shortcut to success, relying on ingratiation and flattery instead of talent and hard work to curry favor with authority in the workplace, meaning supervisors, managers, bosses and anyone else with the power to help or hurt. Thus the disdain, at times downright fury, of co-workers going the hard-work-and-talent route: It's not fair. Not to mention undignified.

But the brownnoser doesn't see it that way -- on the contrary, he or she is admirably devoted to a superior -- making dealing with the annoyance tricky [source: Jappreet]. Confronting the colleague won't work, and complaining to the object of all that flattery can easily backfire.

What to do, then, about the workplace suck-up? Exclude and bad-mouth? Seethe in silence?

In fact, these are often the smartest (if not the most mature or productive) options. There are others, though, depending on the make-up of the brownnoser and the workplace in question.

You don't just jump into these things, though. This is your workplace, your livelihood. Addressing interpersonal conflicts requires delicacy and care.

So you go in with knowledge and background: Why this the route to success? If you can figure out the ingratiator, you have a better chance of addressing the annoyance to some affect.

Who, then, is this shameless suck-up?