Thought the popularity contests ended when you graduated high school? Alas, the truth is that many workplaces, too, have a social environment that echoes the halls of Beverly Hills High. And while your coworkers have likely matured a good deal since their days on the football team (or the sidelines), the benefits of being well-liked in your workplace are more than just social. According to the Wall Street Journal, being likeable can help you get hired, receive help on projects at work and be forgiven more quickly for making mistakes.
If you’d like to avoid the workplace altogether and go solo, you can create a website and start your business working from home! But even if you’re a team of one, you’ll still need to collaborate with others at some point in your career. And the more people enjoy your company, the better your shot at success.
Here are some tips on how to be everyone’s favorite office mate.
Didn’t play the name game on the first day of work? It can be tough to remember everyone’s name, especially if you work at a large company. But calling colleagues by their name helps them feel like they matter, so it’s worth it to try and learn everyone’s. If you tend to struggle with names, make an extra effort each time you meet someone new. When a coworker introduces themselves, find a mnemonic device, repeat the person’s name aloud and commit it to memory. Then, next time you see them, be sure to use their name.
Listen and don’t interrupt
While it may seem obvious, sometimes the hustle and bustle of the day can get you moving so fast that you don’t stop to really hear what someone is saying. From the conference room to the lunchroom, listening is another important way to show your coworkers that you value their opinion. Try to listen more than you speak and wait until the other person is done speaking to share your thoughts. If you tend to interrupt people, try to keep yourself in check. Instead, ask questions to learn more about your colleagues and encourage them to talk about themselves. (People tend to enjoy speaking about themselves!)
Not sure how to handle that incessant chatterbox? Perhaps perfecting a few “outs” could help. We won’t tell if you don’t.
Glass half full? Why not fill it to the brim? People enjoy coworkers who find the silver lining in everything, whether it’s the upside of a tough project, the humor in an unfortunate situation or the positive characteristics of that super annoying guy in the office next door.
Try to inject positivity wherever you can, by smiling, giving people the benefit of the doubt and focusing on the good side of things. Ask yourself if you frequently gossip or complain and if so, try to nip it in the bud! While it can be fun to have a griping session every now and again, being too negative can bring down the people around you and reflect negatively on you.
Be willing to do “grunt work”
Whether you are the big boss or at the bottom of the totem pole, being willing to lend a hand – even for the crummiest of tasks – shows people that you’re a good sport! It sends the message that you’re down to earth, empathetic and an all around nice-guy or gal. So if you notice that the bathrooms are all out of toilet paper or there are some dishes piling up in the shared kitchen, roll up your sleeves and take one for the team.
Show you care
Remember how mom said that actions speak louder than words? She was right (of course!). Committing random acts of kindness is a great way to build your “social capital” at work. Show you care by asking people about what’s going on in their outside life. Ask your coworker how their sick child is feeling, share your scarf with the colleague who is always cold or bring some chocolates in for your team when you return from vacation. These small, easy acts will show coworkers that you really care about who they are and not just what they do.
Make yourself approachable
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your time. If you are willing to take the time to answer colleagues’ questions or lend a hand on a tough project, they will appreciate knowing that you’re open and available to help.
This can be challenging on days when you are pressured by a deadline, juggling a million tasks or slightly distracted by things going on at home. We’ve all been there! But if you let the stress get to you and become unapproachable, it can have a negative impact on how people perceive you. Not to mention, there will likely come a day when you need a helping hand and are looking for someone to turn to. So next time a colleague stops by (even when you are busy), remind yourself that the few minutes you give them now could pay off in the long-haul. Don’t have time right away? No biggie. Schedule a time for when you are available to chat.
Share the credit
From brownie points and gold stars to a “like” on our latest Facebook post, we all enjoy getting a good shoutout! There is nothing quite like the warm and fuzzy feelings that go along with getting praised. So try to think about how you can dish up big servings of credit at the workplace.
Next time you complete a huge project after working on it for weeks or launch a new (and wildly successful) initiative, you may be tempted to jump up and down and say, “I did it!” Before you give yourself a pat on the back, however, think about who else deserves a share of the accolades. Be sure to give credit to everyone involved in the project. Even if some of the people didn’t pull their own weight, you will ultimately benefit by being gracious and giving them kudos.
Use common courtesy
Remember the magic word? Whether you are two or seventy-two, it matters. Using your manners at the workplace shows that you are kind, thoughtful and professional. The bottom line? Always say thank you, excuse me and please. If you are someone who tends to swear a lot, try to leave that tough talk for outside of the office. Even if you’ve developed close friendships at work, you never know who is listening. Vulgar language makes you sound less educated and can leave others with a negative impression. That’s just the darn truth.
Treat everyone the same
From the CEO to the late night cleaning staff, you should treat everyone at work the same way. Brown-nosing just the management will quickly earn you the contempt and eye rolls of your colleagues. On the other hand, if you really invest in getting to know the people both “below” and “above” you on the ladder, you’ll earn the respect of everyone on the team.
It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it works. Bake up some yummy, chocolatey goodness at home and bring it into work the next day. You’ll be sure to earn some smiles from everyone around. Don’t cook? Stop in at Dunkin’ Donuts on hump day and help everyone make it through the week!