Your boss will never admit it, but new research finds that most of them don't know the difference between kissing-up and real compliments. According to a study published in the journal, Psychological Science, bosses tend to lash out or bully employees who DON’T offer them praise. So if you're planning on laying it on thick with the boss, here are a few things you should know courtesy of USA Today.

  • Kissing-up is all about timing and specifics. Don’t just pop your head into your bosses office to tell them they look nice today; anybody would see through that. Instead, after a meeting where the boss made a good call, find them in the hall and tell them you admire their ability to make tough decisions. According to Jerry Stead, the CEO of a multi-million dollar publishing company, a well-timed compliment can completely change a boss’s attitude towards you.
  • Also, CEOs might be a sucker for a compliment, but sticking to specifics is more sincere. According to Aubrey Daniels, a management expert, bosses are just like anyone else and they respond positively to positive reinforcement. However, you have to keep it real. Telling your boss he’s awesome seems hollow, but telling him his new marketing strategy is awesome rings true. Bosses may not be great at sniffing out schemers, but most of them can tell if someone's feeding them a line.
  • Next thing to know when complimenting your boss: If you do it right you’ll be the last to get laid off! James Westphal is a business strategy professor at the University of Michigan. He says compliments are powerful tools for employees. After studying workplace flattery for years, he’s found that compliments make bosses feel like they HAVE to reciprocate with favoritism, even if they don’t like the employee.
  • Finally, only direct your compliments to your direct supervisor. According to Marsh Carter, the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, kissing up to the higher ups crosses a familiarity line that won’t be appreciated. Only compliment your boss in private. Even if you flattery is sincere, looking like a kiss-up makes your very unpopular with your fellow employees.