Boost Your Career: How to Be Happier and More Likeable at Work


It seems like everyone is pulling double-duty and working longer hours these days. Career has always been a big part of the American identity, and as our economy rights itself after so much upheaval, I wonder what's been lost? In keeping our collective nose to the grindstone, have we ignored our work relationships? If you're wondering how to enjoy work more and be more likeable at work, here are a few strategies that can help remake your outlook — and your reputation. (See also: Become a Star Employee by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur)

Rise Above the Gossip

Most offices run on three things — coffee, Windows, and gossip. The most likeable employees stick to just the coffee and Windows. Though gossip can be enticing and often even feel semi-work-related, it's not a good foundation for building positive work relationships for a couple of reasons. First, many folks use gossip as a way to bond, similar to how good friends share secrets. But since gossip tends to be circular in nature, it's nearly impossible to participate in a culture of gossip without eventually gossiping about those closest to you. And to complicate matters further, gossip can color our opinions about other coworkers and indirectly sabotage our work relationships and over time, limit our professional networks. (See also: Honesty Is the Best Policy, Especially at Work)

Become a Resource

Especially for new employees, becoming a resource in a particular area of your job can serve as the perfect means of introduction and the foundation of good working relationships. Can you get the copier un-jammed faster than anyone else? Know how to get a few more miles out of every toner cartridge? Are you the go-to guy or gal for navigating your employer's elaborate intranet? Establishing a reputation as a resource even in relatively trivial areas can help make you indispensable and help coworkers associate you with solutions.

Be Approachable

Strict nine-to-fivers who are mainly concerned with putting in their time and heading home tend not to be the most likeable characters at work. If you find yourself in this group, you can gradually change it by:

  • Taking a real lunch hour and eating in a communal space with your co-workers.
  • Joining in office celebrations and other activities that are sponsored by your employer.
  • Stopping what you're doing, listening, and making eye contact when you're approached with a question or asked for help.
  • Volunteering your expertise and insight when you notice someone struggling with a work challenge or professional issue.

Give and Accept Compliments

Sometimes a sincere compliment can mean the difference between a stressful and exhausting workday and a tolerable one. The best coworkers understand this and provide genuine kudos when the occasion calls for it. Likewise, it's important to accept compliments with gratitude and without the self-effacing dance that so many of us feel obliged to perform when a compliment comes our way. In short, look for real opportunities for praise, especially if you manage people. And when praise comes your way, embrace it! (See also: 20 Free Ways to Show You Care)

Don't Run From Your Mistakes

Let's face it, mistakes happen. Remember, the employer who only hires perfect people is woefully and perpetually short-staffed. The best employees understand that mistakes are part of life and part of learning. When a project goes south or a deadline is missed, own it, apologize, and move on. If you need to work through another person's mistake as a coworker or manager, accept his apology and look for solutions together.

Share Successes

Few things in our work worlds happen in isolation. Successes are no exception. Likeable coworkers share the wins and acknowledge the hard work and efforts of everyone involved in a project. Formally and informally spread the wealth of success and you'll soon have a stellar reputation for fair-mindedness, humility, and kindness. (See also: Career Advice From "Parks and Recreation")

Sweat the Small Stuff

Getting along with coworkers and building enduring positive working relationships is less a science and more an art. Remembering details like a child's graduation, a wedding anniversary, or the surgery date of sick relative can go miles in promoting strong bonds. Expressing a sincere, but professional level of interest in the lives of your coworkers shows your humanity and that's the foundation of likeability.

Remember, being liked at work stems from being genuinely likable and that's not the same as being nice-but-phony. The best coworkers look for ways to promote positive environments, get the most from their teams, mix a little fun with productivity, and remember the human side of business. When done right and done well, likeability is nearly unavoidable.

What tips do you have for those who'd like to improve their likability factor at work? What's worked for you?

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