Of course you were hired to work, not make friends. But connecting with people on the job is important as well. “It’s very important to be liked and respected at work. And, doing the job well is important. But mastering interpersonal communication skills and connecting with colleagues, clients and managers is critical for ultimate success. You can do the job right but fail at the equally as important “soft skills” – understanding behavioral styles, listening effectively, writing clear and concise e-mails, etc. All of these character traits/skill sets impact whether others will like you, and, therefore, your ultimate success/ability to climb the corporate ladder,” explains workplace expert and international executive coach Marjorie Brody.
Take a good look at yourself to see how you are coming across in the workplace? “Are you an authentic and likeable person? How do you know? Start by asking this question: Is the room better when you enter it or leave it? Would your friends, family, and colleagues answer the same way?” asks corporate leadership consultant Anne Grady, author of “52 Strategies for Life, Love and Work.”
One of the reasons you may want to win people over in the office is to create a circle of allies. Allies can help you push projects through, they can support you–and likewise as well. “Allies can become advocates, helping open doors to new promotions and choice projects/assignments – leading to greater opportunities for recognition, career advancement, and promotions. Specifically, they can spread the word about your skills and act as references for lateral moves,” says Brody.
Adds professional coach Lori Scherwin, founder of Strategize That, “Relationships can make or break your career. As you grow in your role and get more senior, aptitude/doing the tasks of your job well, is just the ante. Right or wrong, there is a lot of subjectivity in any office dynamic. Impact and influence are critical success drivers and having allies in your court at the office–at all levels senior, junior and peer–will help you progress (and make the job a whole lot more enjoyable, too).”
Going it alone on the job can backlash. “If you aren’t likable in the office, chances are you aren’t happy either. Attitude gets in the way of performance and can cloud otherwise good work. If you don’t like where you are and you don’t like your colleagues, it’s time to find a new path. We spend too much of our lives working to not enjoy it,” Scherwin points out.
Tips on how to win over and influence people at work–even if you’re shy:
–Remember what your mother taught you. “Mind your manners. One rude moment is enough to hurt others’ perceptions. So, leave the drama/baggage at home and always be courteous to colleagues,” notes Brody.
–Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Rather than try to play it cool when a ‘not-so-cool’ thing happens, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to be authentic. It will make people want to connect with you,” says Grady.
–It’s not all about you. “Be interested, not interesting. Likeable people are good listeners. Rather than trying to be the center of attention, likeable people want to learn about and understand the people around them. They ask questions, pay attention and stay engaged,” explains Grad. Adds Scherwin, “Be genuinely interested in what others are doing. Faking it won’t work. Ask questions about what they do, how they do it and why they do it – it’s a win-win as you will learn more about your organization and they will feel important for being asked. You just might learn something too.”
–Actions speak loudly. “Do what you say you will–in other words, honor all commitments and be accountable for your actions,” says Brody.
–People matter, not machines. “Put people over technology,” says Grady. “When you are with someone, be present with them. Rather than check your smart phone every time it buzzes, put devices on do not disturb while you are in a conversation.”
–Look positive and happy. “Smile,” says Scherwin. “Easier said than done when you are in the midst of another crisis and fire drill. Keep a positive ‘can-do’ attitude so others will feel comfortable in your presence. This one’s a no-brainer, everyone can smile, even if you are shy.”
–Pass on knowledge. “Share insight. What you do in your role will likely help others do their job better too. Sharing isn’t bragging – the more colleagues cooperate and communicate, the better it is for everyone involved,” suggests Scherwin.