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nikipedia's avatar

Has flattery or sucking up ever backfired on you?

Asked by nikipedia (27986points) April 13th, 2012

I am about to do a very ass-kissy thing. I recently asked a question about a letter of recommendation for an award I am going up for.

I really want the award. I think I am a good contender, but I also think everyone who is up for it is a good contender, and there isn’t much to differentiate us from one another.

The award does not require any kind of personal statement, but I am going to include a letter to the selection committee anyway, basically thanking them for considering me and telling a short anecdote. It is true that I am grateful they’re considering me, but let’s face it, I am only doing it in the hopes it will give me even a tiny competitive edge.

So it got me wondering, has any kind of ass-kissery ever backfired on anyone? Did you think you were going the extra mile, but it turned out to be overkill? Feel free to comment on my specific situation, but I am really interested in hearing what your experiences were.

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12 Answers

Coloma's avatar

No. I am not a flatterer, I do not over sell myself and refuse to stoop to advantageous ass kissing for personal gain.
Nor do I fall for false flattery as a manipulative “tool”.
I do not compromise my own integrity for anything, nor do I wish to be the recipient of false flattery. My mantra is ” flattery will get you nowhere!” lol

In answer to your Q. yes. Only it was not my flattery that backfired but the obvious flattery of an ex lover who came sniffing around again after years of little contact trying to flatter the pants off of me, literally and figuratively. It was SO obvious and I don’t do manipulations at all. It backfired for him in the sense that I now see him for his true colors, a middle aged player on the prowl looking to fill the void with casual sex with me while hunting for his next romantic fix. Gah! Be gone! haha

Pandora's avatar

Well not me but my daughter. She had a friend who wanted her to go with her to the junior prom but my daughter told her she couldn’t go because she didn’t have a dress. She really just didn’t want to go. Well her friend had an extra gown that was my daughters size and my daughter said it was very pretty. She was so flattered that she decided to loan it to my daughter. She actually thought the dress was ugly but she didn’t want to offend her. It was a bright pumkin colored gown. My daughter couldn’t find a way out so she went to the prom and she said she felt horrible all night. (It really was a horrible look. LOL) Later that evening when she went to return the dress she noticed it had a stain on the bottom. She told her friend that she didn’t know how it got there but she would send it to the cleaners. Then her friend told her that she had forgotten that her sister had borrowed it and vomited on it. So don’t worry about the cleaning. Yeah, beware of compliments. They can be twisted in the end.

gailcalled's avatar

Awards committees are pros at identifying those who toot their own horn.
Let your accomplishments do the talking.

(College admissions committees say, “The thicker the folder, the thicker the kid.”

Trillian's avatar

I don’t like suck-ups and could never bring myself to act in that manner. Which may explain why I didn’t get a couple of promotions years ago.
I still believe your best shot is to state your accomplishments and the results, with figures if possible. Accomplishments that forwarded company goals, I mean, and that are in keeping with the spirit of the award.
My mom always said; “Toot not thine own horn and the same shall go un-tooted.”

wundayatta's avatar

Oh God, yes! You better hope there’s no one like me on the board. If I detect that kind of flimflammery, you lose ten points. I’ve had job applicants—mostly of Asian extraction, who do that kind of thing. You can tell it’s cultural, because so many Asians do it and almost no one else does it. But they it doesn’t help their cause. Not sure it hurts their cause, since they tend not to be suitable, anyway. This job requires good English.

If you’re going to suck up, it has to be sincere. You have to be honest about it. Explain why this award would mean so much to you and why you think you are such a good candidate. I wouldn’t be presumptive—like you think you’ve won it already, but I do think expressing a strong desire in a nice way might make a difference. But you are playing with fire with me. If you step over the boundary into pure sucking up, you lose with me.

Of course, if you really want it that bad, there’s always bribery. There are lots of ways of bribing judges.

flutherother's avatar

I’ve never gone in for much for flattery because I was so bad at it. I am better at self deprecation, which sometimes has the same effect.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Put yourself in the award selection committee’s place. If you were to review all of the applications and see yours, or others for that matter, with a brief cover letter, would it sway your vote?

Being on one of these committees is very much akin to being a juror on a trial. A personal comment may tug at their heart, but they tend to step up to the plate and stick to the facts required in making the final judgement.

Since we have little information about the award, the committee, and the application process, you will have to decide whether it is worth the risk or not. All I can tell you is that in all of the years that I’ve been in a position as a hiring manager or on an awards committee, whether an applicant includes a cover letter or not has never impacted the selection process. It is nice. It is almost expected, although that is going by the wayside with electronic entries. We stick to the facts. Often there are multiple candidates that are almost equally qualified, but one always seems to have an edge that breaks the tie. And in most cases, there can only be one winner.

If I were in your shoes, I would focus on the fact that I was actually in a position to even be qualified to apply for the award. You obviously are doing something right. That in itself is worthy of recognition.

nikipedia's avatar

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I decided to include a short but sincere cover letter. @Pied_Pfeffer, I don’t know if it will matter to the selection committee in the end, but I thought I should at least try to make it clear to them how important this award would be to me. I did try to put myself in their shoes, and from their perspective, I have no idea how they could choose between us—all our applications are so similar.

Recently, I got a a runner-up prize for an oral presentation, and was wait-listed for a program I really, really wanted to attend. I really want to just win this one.

Also, I know that one of the other applicants did some, let’s say, “liberal padding” of her CV, and I really, really do not want her to win.

filmfann's avatar

No, but I know a good story about it.
12 years ago, my company was about to begin a huge project, and needed to take a number of workers from the Business As Usual side, and move them to the new Pronto side.
Lots of people saw Pronto as a high visablity, high reward job. Techs there would get lots of training, and would get all the new tools.
The company had all the workers fill out forms on 1) whether they wanted to join Pronto, and 2) state their qualifications.
Tim really wanted to go to Pronto, so he lied big time on his qualifications, saying he knew how to do things he had never even seen done. Unfortunately for Tim, the company decided to take the 2 most qualified workers and move them to Pronto, then keep the next two in BAU, and take the 12 most senior techs who didn’t have the skills to Pronto. Had Tim admitted that he didn’t know shit, he would have gotten the move he wanted. As it was, he was left in BAU, where he continued screwing up until his retirement.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@nikipedia Thank you for letting us know of your decision. Since the OP said that a cover letter was not required, it implies that it isn’t going to put the application in the bottom of the pile. It’s a roll of the dice: it may tug at the judges’ heartstrings or turn them off.

The award selection committee I was on had each member rank the applicants, and then the numbers were compiled. The person with the highest score was the winner. There was no discussion between the committee members. The selection process for the award you applied for may be completely different. Many are.

More importantly, congratulations for the oral competition prize. It is a fact that most people would rather face death than speak in public. This reiterates my comment that you should focus on the fact that you have a talent that many people do not possess. It is a talent that will open doors in whatever field you decide to pursue.

woodcutter's avatar

No. Once you start down that road something is bound to backfire if nothing more than getting the label of brown noser. Some people can shamelessly pull it off and could care less if their motives are suspect. Don’t trust them.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think you hit on the key issue here with your response @nikipedia – sincere. A short, sincere letter is fine. I agree with @gailcalled and I wouldn’t go any further.

I hope you get the award though and I hope you will let us know. Fingers and toes crossed for you! Keep in mind, and I am not saying this is the case here, often who wins awards can be a bit stacked. There can be politics at play in the background. I know I have looked at the list of award winners in my place of work and the same people seem to come up again and again. Also, if you can, see if anyone who has won this award before can read over your application. Feedback can only help and there is a technique to putting these things together.

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