When you consider what determines your success at work, a number of thoughts might come to mind. Perhaps you think about your hard-earned degrees or certifications. You might consider all of those late nights that you put in to ensure that a particular deadline was met. What you might not consider is a factor that is becoming increasingly important in workplace success—likability.
Why is likability suddenly so important?
Certainly, it’s always played a role in workplace success. However, in today’s world where most workers feel completely overwhelmed and overworked, likability can help "take the edge off" and is a crucial determinant in whether you sink or swim at the office.
Likability plays a role in everything from who gets a job offer to whose workplace errors are more easily pardoned. It’s a simple enough premise—people want to work with people they like. According to a Harvard Business Review report on “Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks”. "Faced with a choice between a ‘competent jerk' and a ‘lovable fool' as a work partner, people usually opt for likability over ability."
The good news is that you can learn to be likable with a few simple tips.
- Be genuine. This is both simple and effective.
- Find commonality. No one wants to listen to someone who only talks about himself. Discuss topics of mutual interest.
- Listen up. Let your co-worker know that you are engaged in what she's saying by nodding your head or taking notes. Don’t let yourself get distracted by other people or your mental to-do list.
- Use positive body language. Sometimes what you don’t say matters just as much as what you do say. Pay attention to your body language. Uncross your arms. Smile. Nod in agreement.
- Ask questions. Your co-workers want to know that you care about them. Ask about that big project they’ve been working on for the last month. Let them know that you’ve been paying attention and that you’re interested in their lives.
- Be expressive. Giving a presentation in a monotone voice will do two things: it will put your audience to sleep and it will knock a couple of notches off your likability factor. So, smile, vary your tone of voice, and be enthusiastic.
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