How to be Liked at Work

Like all cultures, workplace cultures have their own rituals, norms, and rules for communicating. These rules, whether in an interview situation or in a friendly conversation, delineate appropriate and inappropriate verbal and nonverbal behavior, specify rewards (or punishments for breaking the rules), and tell you what will help you get and keep a job and what won’t. For example, the general advice given throughout this text is to emphasize your positive qualities, to highlight your abilities, and to minimize any negative characteristics or failings. But in some organizations—especially within collectivist cultures such as those of China, Korea, and Japan—workers are expected to show modesty (Copeland & Griggs, 1985). If you stress your own competencies too much, you may be seen as arrogant, brash, and unfit to work in an organization where teamwork and cooperation are emphasized. Here are just a few of the ways to be liked at work which, as you’ll see, are essentially rules for communicating.

Whether in a job interview, in the early days on a new job, or in meeting new colleagues, first impressions are especially important—because they’re so long lasting and so powerful in influencing future impressions and interactions. Here are a few guidelines that will help you make a good first impression and should increase your likeability on the job.

1.      Look the Part Dress appropriately; even “casual Fridays” have dress codes. Any drastic deviation from the standard dress for your position may communicate that you don’t fit in.

2.      Be Positive Express positive attitudes toward the organization, the job, and your colleagues. Avoid negative talk and sarcasm (even in humor).

3.      Be Culturally Sensitive Avoid stereotyping and talk that might be considered racist, heterosexist, ageist, or sexist. You’re sure to offend someone with any of these -isms.

4.      Be Respectful and Friendly Be respectful of other people’s time or personal quirks. Ask if this is a good time to talk. At the same time, be available, helpful, and cooperative as appropriate.

5.      Be Interested Focus attention on the other person. Express interest in who the person is and what he or she says and does. Maintain eye contact, a pleasant facial expression, an open posture, and relatively close proximity. Be a good listener.

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