Relationships are everything at work and in business (and of course, in life). Getting along with others is the best thing you can do for your career.
Because it’s even more memorable than doing great work. People will remember that you were a good person to work with with more than they will remember all the new business you brought in.
The key to being liked is not being the smartest person or the nicest person. The secret to being liked is being a good and thoughtful communicator.
Over and over in my coaching of managers and leaders, many of the same interpersonal challenges come up. They may look a little different each time, but they almost always come down to communication of some form. Here are a few simple but powerful ways to communicate better and be well-liked.
- Give, don’t just take, credit. People naturally crave being recognized, even if just in small ways. It’s nice to be seen as the hero, but more often than not there is a team of people behind you helping make things happen. Giving credit is just sharing the love, and it will come back to you in other forms. It doesn’t have to be in a public way, either. Saying “thank you” or simply acknowledging someone’s hard work can be just as rewarding and motivating.
Listen at level 3. Level 3 listening (as opposed to 1 or 2) is when you’re not only fully present to the words the other person is saying, but you are also aware of their body language and emotional state. In other words, you’re not distracted by what you want to say in response, and you’re not thinking about the next meeting. Level 3 listening is hard because it requires laser focus, attention and care, and we don’t always have those 3 things. Personally, in order to really listen at level 3, I have to put away any distractions. Make a point to really be attuned to your colleagues when they’re speaking, because they will notice the difference and be more responsive.
Disagree, respectfully. Healthy debate, different perspectives and new approaches are what lead to the best ideas. Whether not seeing eye to eye or simply having different communication styles, relationships are constantly shaped by conversations and interactions between people. It’s hard to be liked if people aren’t comfortable speaking with you or are put off by your communication approach. If you have a different idea, use softer language such as “my sense is...”, “in my experience...” or “what if we…”, creating more of a dialogue.
Bring some JOY into the workplace. Maybe you’re the person who asks people to go to lunch, or you’re the one who is always interested in others’ hobbies. Maybe you love bringing coffee in or are the one who makes a heavy moment more lighthearted. Whatever it is that’s “on brand” for you, bring more of that into the workplace. The more you show up as a thoughtful, caring and interested person, the more you will be well liked (and of course good things flow from that).
Show empathy. Empathetic leaders tend to be seen as more “human” and attuned to others’ feelings. A client of mine recently committed to just “checking in” on her team more often. Not in the “how is that project going?” kind of way, but more in the, “how are you doing?” kind of way. The difference is subtle but important, and reveals the caring part of you. You don’t know what is truly going on with someone unless you take the time to ask.
Most people buy into the idea that being liked at work really matters. If you still aren’t, perhaps you’re thinking - I just want to do stellar work, get in, get out, and not be bothered with the fluffy stuff. And that’s okay too because everyone has different goals at work. But it’s important to understand that you can do both. You can be a top performer and also be well-liked. The two actually go hand-in-hand.