Likeable people have an advantage in life, both inside and outside the office. Look at it this way: if you’re a manager, and you have two equally qualified candidates, which one would you hire or promote — the one everyone likes, or the one who rubs people the wrong way?
It’s not that professional life is a popularity contest. But working as a team means being able to get along. The folks who are best at doing that will be rewarded.
Want to get better at getting along? Try these tips:
1. Be Reliable
You can be the most fun person in the office, but if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, no one is going to nominate you for employee of the year. First and foremost, we’re at work to work. Honor your commitments, especially when they involve other people’s goals and priorities, and you’ll deserve the high regard of your peers.
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2. Do One Thing at a Time
This is a tough one for many of us in the age of social media, smartphones and jam-packed calendars, but it’s important. Do one thing at a time, and give that one thing your whole attention, whether it’s talking to a colleague or writing an email or composing a tweet. True multitasking is impossible for a lot of people, and even task-switching — going back and forth between items on your to-do list — costs energy and attention. Better to do one thing at a time and do it well. Your colleagues will appreciate both having your full attention during conversations and reaping the rewards of your focus.
3. Be Sensitive to People’s Sore Spots
“It’s important in a conflict to understand what people do hold as sacred,” said Daniel Shapiro, founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program, in an interview with PayScale. “…It’s so easy to otherwise step on someone’s identity.”
That means observing the usual rules of office conversational etiquette — no politics, no religion — but it also means paying attention to the less obvious things that your coworkers hold dear. For example, you might be able to take some gentle ribbing about your hometown sports franchise, but your colleague might take any smack talk as a personal affront. Look for cues that your fun joke will land badly, and save yourself and your coworkers some pain.
4. Brag the Right Way
No one likes a person who’s constantly tooting their own horn, but it’s also a mistake to be too humble at work. If you appear not to value your contributions, no one else will either. The question is, can you do it in a positive way for all involved?
Take credit for your achievements, but be prepared to back it up with data. For example, if you’re heading into a performance review, make sure that you can quantify your accomplishments. It’s not enough to say that you met your goals: bring numbers, preferably with a dollar sign attached, to demonstrate exactly how well you’re doing.
It’s also important to note that timing is everything. You need to talk yourself up in a review or a job interview; when you’re networking or chatting with coworkers, it’s better to put the focus on them and practice listening.
5. Put the Focus on Others
And speaking of focus, charismatic people have it — and they direct it at others, making a conversational companion feel like the only person in the room. They really listen and engage, instead of waiting for their chance to talk.
“A charismatic person is able to exert significant influence because he or she connects with others in meaningful ways,” wrote Emma Seppälä, author of The Happiness Track, at her blog. “It’s no surprise people often describe highly charismatic people—presidents including Bill Clinton are frequent examples—as having the ability to make you feel as if you were the only person in the room. Given how rare it is to receive that kind of attention from anyone, the ability to be fully present makes a big impression.”
Tell Us What You Think
What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you. Share your tips in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.