A friend of mine once complained to me about a neighbor of hers who had a parrot. Apparently this neighbor put the bird out on the front porch every day, where it passed the time reciting a repertoire of learned phrases and cell-phone rings. Of course this drove my friend crazy, and an informal survey found that all within earshot felt the same way.

Around this same time, I started to notice a similar phenomenon at work. Several people would be sitting in a conference room discussing a project or plan, and many ideas would be presented. Eventually the higher-up in the room would state an opinion: “Love it!” he or she would exclaim in reference to one of the proposals. And then, within a matter of seconds, the room would reverberate with similar cries of “Love it!” or “It’s a big love!” or the triple-threat “Love! Love! Love!” all in response to the same idea, like a bunch of corporate cockatoos in action.

Birds and humans may have different behavioral codes, but in this case they seem to be acting on the same impulse: The irritating agent (be it bird or employee) is trying to gain attention or approval from the one in charge (owner or boss). And while I think we can all agree that it’s only human to kiss up to your boss by imitating them—it is, in fact, so ingrained in our culture that we hardly notice it—one must be careful to not just parrot back their responses.

One should also be careful to silence one’s cell phone. No one wants to hear that thing ring, even if it’s coming from the beak of a parrot.