How to Practice Ethical Buttering Up

Butter is the reason we eat popcorn. Broccoli is intolerable without butter. In our house we put butter on peanut butter sandwiches. 

Everything’s better with butter. (Except watermelon.)

Buttering up:

Buttering up is typically negative. Fred is buttering up the boss before asking for a raise. Wilma smears on butter before asking for time off.

We say, “He’s spreading it on thick,” when someone manipulates with butter. But…

“Flattery will get you everywhere.” Mae West

Butter works, even when it’s insincere. (CBS)

Ethical buttering up:

Just for today, make buttering up a good thing.

I noticed my wife walking out the front door early this morning. When I asked what she was doing she said, “Taking a contract to the mail.” (Yes, some organizations still require paper contracts.)

I said, “You’re so good at finishing things. I love it when you check things off your list.” She laughed, “OK, do you want me to check your post?”

She thought I was buttering her up. I wasn’t! We laughed and gave each other a high five.

5 ways to spread butter ethically:

Butter tells people they matter. Spread some today.

  1. Build honest relationships. Buttering up is unethical if you harm someone.
  2. Establish a secret encouragement hit squad.
  3. Notice effortful work.
  4. Respect someone’s character.
  5. Describe the impact of behaviors.

Roy Saunderson’s tip:

Use ‘I’ not ‘you’.

Low self-esteem doesn’t believe recognition. “You handled that tough situation with calmness.” The voice in their head says, “Don’t believe it. You aren’t that great.”

Use ‘I’.

I respect how you handled that tough situation with calmness.” Using “I” makes it more difficult to reject or minimize recognition if they respect you.

How might you butter up someone today?

Roy Saunderson explaining the use of ‘I’ not ‘you’.

Click here for the entire conversation.