3 Differences Between Sucking Up and Being Supportive

Getting this right will change the way you work and lead

Jake Daghe
6 min readOct 14, 2020


Photo by Eric Brehm on Unsplash

No one likes a suck-up, but everyone likes someone in their corner. Understanding this difference is one of the most important realities for both leaders and followers.

Everyone wants to think that they can tell when people are sucking-up or truly being genuine, but it can be hard to spot the differences, especially in our current climate today.

Business Insider recently shared that over the last few months, 18 major companies have announced long-range plans to continue remote work, many of whom have gone on to edit their policies for even later start dates.

People still aren’t spending time in person like they were before this pandemic began. Restuarant sales remain low and major events like concerts and sports games still aren’t back.

In a culture shoved rather forcefully into a virtual and isolated reality, it’s perhaps more important than ever to know how to spot the difference between when someone is being supportive or if they are just sucking up.

Before the pandemic, ABC shared a fascinating article on the difference between fake and genuine kindness. Said another way, the difference between being supportive and sucking up. According to their research, they broke down the difference in three core distinctions.

  1. Performative support which is rooted in insecurity
  2. Manipulative support which is rooted in sucking up
  3. Cordial support which is rooted in being overly sweet.

Dr. Matt Beard, writing for ABC, went on to say, that what each of these distinctions has in common with the other is that:

“none of them give the person who is receiving the support any agency, voice or respect.”

There is no magic bullet in relationships. If you build your friendships on false feelings and false words, you won’t be able to last in the long run. Sucking-up always has a way of coming back to bite you when you least expect it.

Dr. Beard went on to describe each type of fake support by saying:

“In their own way, they all use the…



Jake Daghe

Creative Engineer writing working hypotheses | I write what I wish I could have read when I was younger | Join my newsletter ‘I/Q Crew’ on Substack.