How To Become More Likeable At Work #Yesyoucan
March 20, 2017
Being likeable at work; matters. It matters not only for your happiness—after all, being disliked by the people you spend 8+ hours a day with can be tremendously injurious to your happiness—but also for your career prospects.
We help those we like, we hire and promote those that we like, we reward those we like. We even forgive those we like for errors that we would have disciplined someone else for. It may seem unfair, but human nature isn’t exactly known for its lack of bias.
Soft skills matter enormously in the modern workplace, so if you’re not naturally strong in this skillset, it’s time to make yourself more likeable at work. For some of us, this is not easy- and it’s fair to say that for the many introverts in the life sciences sector, it can be initially uncomfortable to make some of these changes.
But make them you can; whilst at the same time surprisingly making yourself happier and more successful in the process.
1. Say good morning.
We’ve all seen it- the busy scientist or tech who just pushes through the front door and bustles straight to their desk without greeting anyone, leaving some raised eyebrows in their wake. To them, this behaviour makes sense- they’re busy, they’ve got things on their mind, and they don’t want to waste time with idle chit chat, or maybe it’s because they dread small talk.
To the other team members, it probably looks very different- it looks like a conscious choice not to be a part of the team, and it seems arrogant and even hurtful. Saying a breezy good morning solves all that miscommunication with two words.
2. Learn a little about your colleagues.
Everyone has ‘pet’ subjects they love to talk about—whether a child, a dog, or a hobby. Once you know their favourite top topic of conversation, you can easily strike up a natural conversation by asking about it. Mind you, if their favourite conversation is politics or something similar, it’s best to find a less controversial talking point!
3. When you see someone struggling, offer to help.
A research assistant might be confused by the new reporting software, or a sales rep might be struggling to find contacts at a hospital. If you can offer specialist assistance, do so, but if not, a simple offer to refill their printer paper, get them some IT help, or even just a word of commiseration and encouragement can make the person feel very warmly towards you.
4. Bring food.
If you’re popping out to the coffee shop or sandwich place, ask your colleagues if they want you to pick them up something. Never underestimate the power of food and coffee to brighten a busy person’s day (and their opinion of you.)
6. Get involved in the company’s social media pages, particularly the internal message boards.
Social media gives you a platform to be likeable and get your message across. Even better, you can think about what to write beforehand so you can manage your image. Companies are increasingly taking likeability into account when they consider who to promote, and social media presence is one of the things they take into account as it shows how much power to influence you to hold in the organisation.
7. Make eye contact.
When people avoid eye contact, they’re perceived to be dishonest or disinterested (even though this doesn’t bear up in studies) so it’s really important to look at people when they’re talking.
8. Don’t get involved in negative talk about other team members.
This one cannot be emphasised enough. It can seem harmless to join in when other team members are gossiping, but it will generally work for you—particularly if you aren’t already really popular within the group. Gossip tends to have a life of its own, and before you know it, the person you were gossiping about finds out. Even if they don’t, the others in the group will watch what you say and wonder whether you say the same things behind their back.
9. Pull your weight and do what you say you will.
It’s always harder to like someone who doesn’t work hard when the rest of the team has to pull up the slack. Similarly, it’s hard to trust someone who doesn’t come through on their promises, so if you say you’ll have something done, have it done. If you promise to help someone with something, be there to help them. If you fail to fulfil your obligations, you make it hard to be well-liked at work.
10. Don’t be messy.
I know this might sound strange and I have seen this area create havoc. If you’re the person that leaves your coffee mug in the sink, steals all the good biscuits, or lets your curry explode in the microwave and doesn’t clean it up, it stands to reason that there will be some resentment against you.
You may think tea room issues don’t matter, but anyone who has ever lived in a house share will tell you that these small things can build to genuine dislike and even blood- boiling hatred over time. It’s not hard to clean a mug in exchange for being liked, is it?
11. Spend some of your free time with the team.
If you’re scooting out the door for lunches on your own and leave the office without so much as a goodbye wave each day, you’ll find it near-impossible to build up good human relationships in the office. Accept the occasional offer of a social drink or lunch, and you’ll find your bonds with the team become more natural and fun as you share more experiences.
A word of warning, however. Be cautious of allowing your desire to be liked to cloud your judgement on work matters, or erode the respect that others have for you. Your behaviour and decisions at work should always be professional and benefit the wider team and company goals.