Advance Your Career with the Parrot Technique

The workplace is becoming increasingly competitive.  If you are looking for ways to stand out from the crown the Parrot Technique is an excellent tool to help establish rapport with management and make your work and ideas appear more valuable.  The effect of parroting is subliminal, but you will soon notice that your ideas are well received, respected and supported by others.  After reading this article, you will be able to apply this very simple technique in your workplace and watch your career take off.

Advanced Parrot Technique (APT)

The Advance Parrot Technique (APT) requires a few minutes of research and preparation but the pay off is worth it.  With some practice APT will become second nature.

Step 1:  Carefully examine a recent communication from upper management.  It is important that it is recent becomes things/direction/strategy/focus can change quickly.  Ideally, it will also be a communication that is directed to your area or division of the company.  Review the communication and take note of the following:

  • Repeated words or phrases
  • Directives – phrases containing, we must, we will, our focus etc.
  • New buzzwords or phrases that have not seen before

Step 2:  Record these key words or phrases.  Narrow your list down to the top 3-5 that you feel are the most important.

Step 3:  Assign one word or phrase to each working day.  Put a note in your calendar to remind yourself of the word that has been assigned to that day.

Step 4:  For each day, aim to use the assigned word or expression at least 3 times across 3 different interactions.  Ideally, you will use it across different situations and communications, for example in a meeting, in a conference call and in an email.

Step 5:  After you have completed a day for each of the words and phrases on your list, commit a day to using all of them or as many as possible.

Step 6:  If you need more time to integrate the new lingo into your communications, take another few days to continue practicing.  If you are feeling confident, you can repeat the exercise over again with new words from a more recent corporate communiqué.

If written statements or announcements are in short supply, feel free to improvise with meeting or teleconference comments from management.

The Advanced Parrot Technique (APT) in Action

advance  your career messy moneyTo fully appreciate the steps involved and the impact of APT, let’s practice.  For this exercise, we are going to pretend that we work for a fictitious company called Berkshire Hathaway and that our manager has sent out a memo to all staff about our performance for the year.  We carefully read the memo and notice the following keywords and phrases.  You can review the note here and see what key words you notice.

For this exercise we have selected the following:

  • Intrinsic value
  • Elephants
  • Powerhouse
  • Bolt-on

We assign intrinsic value to Monday, elephants to Tuesday and so on.  On Friday we will use as many of the 4 as possible.

On Friday we might send out an email that reads;

Dear Bob, Thank you for sharing your analysis of the proposed XYZ initiative.  We have reviewed it in detail and appreciate the intrinsic value of this change.  We have several elephants to chase this quarter, but with the project team being the powerhouse that it is, and with this proposal offering a bolt-on solution, our team is happy to support it.

Rinse and repeat.  Yes it really is that easy.  You will not believe the immediate and positive impact APT will have on your performance and career progression at work.


 Simple Parrot  Technique (SPT)

If the advance technique seems  like too much work, then you can  still accomplish great things with  the simple parrot technique  (SPT). The simple method just  requires repeating back management comments with an affirmation.

For instance if your manager says, “This quarter we need to focus on customer retention.”

Your response could sound something like this: “Yes, customer retention……..”

  • I could put together a report
  • We could make it a performance metric
  • That is a good idea
  • I agree
  • We were just looking at/talking about that very thing

Rinse and repeat.

APT and SPT are excellent methods to support career advancement.  If you are looking for additional ideas in this area, you may find this scholarly article on The Use of F**k as a Rapport Management Strategy in British and American English interesting and helpful.


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