How to Handle a Brownnoser

Author's Note

Most assuredly, slang and fecal-reference are not my usual choice of words. From the start, I was a bit uncomfortable using "brownnoser" and "suck-up" (and yikes, "a**-kisser" once) as if formal terms. I could have gone with "sycophant" or "toady," but they seem almost Shakespearean -- somewhat less relatable to the modern, annoyed co-worker.

Terms that may have once been crude (it seems "brownnoser," for one, was first coined by soldiers almost a century ago) seem to have been adopted in common use as acceptable references to those who flatter for personal gain, and so I went with it, hoping not to offend or detract from the seriousness of the topic. Sycophants in the workplace, after all, can be truly destructive. My use of slang ought not be taken as an attempt to minimize.

Related Articles


  • McGrath, Jane. "Does brown-nosing really pay off?" HowStuffWorks. (Oct. 1, 2012)
  • Miranda, Kay. "How to Work with Insecure Coworkers." Chron/The Houston Chronicle. (Oct. 1, 2012)
  • Paige, Alyson. "How to Deal With a Brown-noser Employee." Chron/The Houston Chronicle. (Oct. 1, 2012)
  • Sethi, Jappreet. "How to Tackle Difficult People at Work." June 14, 2011. (Oct. 6, 2012)