How to be likable at work without compromising your sanity

Aiva Strelca 19.07.2023
Illustration on how to be likeable at work

According to research, an average person will spend about one-third of their life working – no wonder we’re googling “how to be likable at work”. And while I’d sign the “who cares what people think” petition any time, I’d also be lying if I said that I don’t care whether I get along with my colleagues or not. 

Moreover, it’s not just about living peacefully with your co-workers. It’s also not that bad to be liked by your management. 

But let me stop your potentially anxious thoughts right here. This article will not be an uncompromising guide on how to be liked at your workplace. Rather – we’ll look into approaches that help your likeability while not harming your wellbeing and sanity. Let’s get started!

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How to be liked at work and be happy about it? 

Sharing friendly vibes with your colleagues and management team enhances the joy of working and increases your chances of professional success. However, it should never come at the cost of your sanity, values, and authentic self. Easier said than done, I know. 

Thus, here are four tips on how to be well-liked at work without losing your personality and dissolving into a sea of niceness.

Engage in conversations and listen

Being a good communicator is a gift not all of us have. The good news is – it’s also a set of skills that we can learn: 

  • Be genuine when talking to your colleagues. You don’t have to be besties with your co-workers. Fewer but genuine conversations are always better than useless babbling. 
  • Remembering people’s names is also a great hack to be well-liked by others. If you’re not good with names, think of a system that could help you remember them – link the name with someone you already know or create an association with something in your memory.
  • Listen to hear, not to respond. Being a good listener is a tremendously underrated skill. It takes notable effort to quiet one’s thoughts and focus on what the other person is saying. But the more you practice intentional listening, the better you become at it. 
  • Make others feel seen and heard. We all need attention and connection. Thus, keeping that in mind, you can make your colleagues feel better about themselves and like you more via small gestures. Greet your co-workers in the morning and say bye when leaving for the day. Engage in some small talk at lunch or send a co-worker a message on Slack complimenting on a job well done. 

Be respectful to others – yourself included

The golden rule is to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. And avoid playing favorites – this isn’t high school. Whether it’s your boss, your intern, or a lunch lady at the office building cafeteria, they’re all human beings and deserve respect.

That said, it’s crucial to respect yourself, too. 

Someone crossing the line or overstepping your personal boundaries? Let them know (respectfully, of course). Keep dealing with unrealistic workloads? Address the issue. By respecting yourself, you give an example to others of how you prefer to be treated.

Do your job responsibly

Being a reliable and responsible worker is another way to be well-liked by your co-workers. 

Trust is essential to maintain a healthy company culture. Doing your job precisely and on time will show others that you’re a trustworthy colleague. 

More tips include keeping your word and being honest with others. If you know you won’t be able to meet a deadline, say so. Instead of guilt-tripping yourself and trying to save the day alone, it’s better to openly inform your colleagues and management about the situation so they can help you deal with it. It’s also a form of responsibility – knowing when to ask for help.

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Be authentic

This may initially sound counterintuitive, but authenticity is the best way to establish genuine connections with co-workers. It’s ok not to be liked by everyone, and the same goes for the other way around. But being yourself and staying true to who you are enhances chances of forming solid and trustworthy connections at work. 

There’s a trick with authenticity, though. We are drawn towards people who are unapologetically themselves, but we often find it hard to become those people ourselves. Being authentic means knowing and owning oneself – the good and the bad. And that takes some courage. 

A few no-gos to be likable at work

Besides the hacks on how to be likable at work, there are a few things you should avoid not to tip the scales towards the opposite end. 

Say no to gossip

Office gossip is a whole genre. Studies say that an average American worker spends about 40 minutes a week gossiping about all things office. While the weekly chitchat seems innocent, it can easily cross the ethics line and become hurtful and too personal. And if you’re the one cultivating it, it doesn’t make you a much likable co-worker. 

Don’t offer help at the cost of your wellbeing

Being the one who comes to your co-workers’ rescue is a nice thing to do – occasionally. But volunteering to take on additional responsibilities constantly can backfire on your wellbeing sooner than you think. Working overtime badly affects one’s health, not even to mention employee mental health.

Being overly helpful may also cost your authenticity – especially if you say yes when you know you should say no instead. 

Take a sick day when needed. Always

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, coming into office slightly sick wasn’t frowned upon that much. Today, the situation is drastically different, and not going to work if you’re contagious is the normal thing to do. Thus, workers who still play the old game of “oh, but I’m not even that sick” have no chance of being well-liked at the workplace. 

Remember – it’s also about how much YOU like the workplace

While thinking about turning yourself into the most liked person in the office, it’s crucial YOU like the workplace as well. When surrounded by people and a work culture we like, we tend to be better motivated, more productive and growth-oriented. Plus, we tend to worry less about our likeability in such conditions.  

It’s nice to try building better relationships with people at work, but it’s only worth it if you like the place and company.

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