Your professional brand isn’t just about the quality of work you do, but also the kind of colleague you are. Whether you are starting a new job or looking to up your credibility with your current co-workers, I present some easy steps for being a coworker people like. Who cares if people like you? As an independent semi-loner myself, I understand the dislike for worry about being liked. But…being liked won’t just make you a pleasant coworker, it might make your workplace a happier place for you.
1. Do what you say you will do
Arguably the most desirable characteristic for a great coworker is following through on your responsibilities. Being dependable means doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. A dependable colleague is a trusted and respected co-worker. Even if you do not become BFFs with your entire office, you can count on being respected for your dependability.
2. Laugh at yourself
Work can get tense sometimes with tight deadlines and high-pressure situations creating conflict. Show that you are a real person and not a work-bot, by not taking yourself too seriously all the time. If you make a goof of yourself (“hypothetical” example: accidentally wear two different, non-matching shoes), embrace the awkward mistake and laugh at yourself. As someone who is more naturally serious and reserved, taking these moments to share a chuckle about my goofiness helps build stronger connections with coworkers. They know that I am human and they aren’t afraid to laugh with (read: at) me.
3. Be more than your job
Even if your job is your dream job and doing it never feels like work, find an interest or hobby outside the confines of your work. The people you work with will think you are more interesting since most people probably aren’t obsessed with their jobs. Being laser-focused on work 24/7 can make you intimidating and hard to live up to. What if your work was gone all of a sudden—whether through layoffs or a sudden change in your own personal interests? What else would be there to keep you motivated and to help you feel fulfilled? Whether it’s collecting ceramic unicorns, training for tricycle marathons, or visiting every dog park in a three-state area, have a thing you care about beyond your work to do list.
4. Show interest in others
Knowing what your coworkers are excited about and interested in helps you get to know people outside of their job responsibilities. Take time to ask about the things they care about and over time you just might make a work friend. You may endure more conversations than you would like about your coworker’s new diet plan, but they will feel good that you care about their life. During these exchanges, being able to talk about your own non-work interests may also come in handy (if you are asked).
5. Be wrong sometimes
You’re wrong, not just some of the time, a lot of the time. Take it from someone who is constantly wrong, being honest about your mistakes will make you relatable. Everyone else is messing up right alongside you. Whether your mistake is not refilling the coffee pot, sending in a report late, or forgetting about a meeting, you’re not the first person to make a mistake. Owning your mistake to others will make you a relatable person to your similarly human and imperfect coworkers.
6. Say thank you
If someone helps you out at work, say thank you and mean it. Giving immediate and specific praise makes people feel appreciated and they may return the positive praise to you down the road (bonus). Bringing positive energy to the workplace through acts of gratitude makes you someone others see as positive and aware of the work others do.
These strategies are not the only things you can do to be a likable coworker (and human), but they are a starting point. Good luck out there!
By Lindsey Ward, CLDC Associate Director