We all know a suck-up, the guy who will say and do anything to please his boss and move up the ladder. And while that kind of eye-rolling behavior is pretty obvious to higher-ups, no one can avoid schmoozing altogether: Getting promoted isn’t just about the work you do; it usually means you’ve made a strong impression on your superiors.

Luckily, a new study says there’s a way to climb the ladder without blatantly kissing ass. The researchers surveyed workers who were vying for spots on a company’s board. The employees who were most likely to get promoted focused on the things they had in common with their boss before any meetings they had together. That way their conversations were pretty genuine and not just a string of half-hearted compliments. So while you still have a motive, this gives you and your boss something to actually talk about—and it makes kissing up a lot less obvious.