CAREER DEVELOPMENT / OCT. 12, 2015
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6 Hacks That Will Make People Like You And Help You Get Ahead

morgan larson dancer
morgan larson dancer

Seems like there’s a hack for everything now from your love life to finances, productivity and your professional life. I mean, they even have food hacks.

Being well liked at work is not a requirement - you could survive being the quiet loner - but it does make it easier to get ahead (even if no one is willing to admit it). When it comes to promotions, assistance, and having your input valued and sought after, being a popular and competent colleague is going to take you further than being “just” a competent one.

So what’s the secret to being loved and cherished at work? There’s no one right answer or quick fix. But, as is always the case, there are a few hacks that can help.  

Now, no one is suggesting you use these ideas to manipulate your co-workers and boss. That would be sneaky, sleazy, and underhanded. Instead, simply keep them in mind when dealing with people. Be sincere, genuine, and real. Don’t lie, exaggerate, or embellish.

An awareness of these hacks, when used properly, should make you one of the most beloved people in the office. And that can only help you.

See Also: 11 Awesome Office Hacks to Help You Through Your Day

1. Reciprocation

Author and psychologist Robert Cialdini, in his book Influence: The Power of Persuasion, outlined what he termed the “Six Weapons of Influence”. His use of the word “weapon” is not accidental. They can be used for good, and they can be used for evil. They don’t all apply to getting people to like you, but the first one, reciprocation, most certainly does. It’s basically the idea of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”, but with a much more subtle execution. We don’t like being indebted to someone, when someone does something for us and says (or we believe) that we “owe them one”. It makes most people unconsciously uncomfortable, and we look for the first opportunity to return the favour in some way.  

You can make this work for you by helping out. By providing assistance in both big and small ways. It might be an explicit offer to lend a hand on a big project, or as simple as sending someone a link to an article that may help them with a report they have due that week. Or bringing a strong coffee to a cubicle neighbour that you know worked late the night before. What you do is unimportant.

When your waiter drops off the bill and says they gave you a few extra mints, you’re more likely to tip well. When you attend a fundraiser and are provided with a free drink, you’re more likely to donate generously. That’s reciprocation at work. Be sincere and genuinely helpful with your colleagues (that helps them), and they will reciprocate when they can (and that helps you).

2. Be Human

“When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity.” ~Walt Disney

We like to see ourselves in others. The same fears, doubts, and weaknesses. No one likes the know-it-all and perfect person. We want to see mistakes, and screw-ups...it’s why most people love a celebrity scandal.

You can boost your likeability in the office by being human. By admitting your mistakes when you make them (instead of passing off responsibility to someone or something else). Recognize your limitations and that you don’t know everything, and people will love you all the more. Even better, ask for their advice when appropriate. Everyone loves to have someone come to them for help. It’s an ego boost, and we then look more favourably on the person who came to us for advice (our opinion of them increases because they had the good sense to seek us out).

You don’t know everything, and you can’t do it all. That’s just a fact. Use that.

3. Mirroring

This one could blow up spectacularly in your face when done wrong. Mirroring is a SUBTLE mimicking of someone’s behaviour such as posture, breathing, tone, body language, volume, and even word choice. Research has shown that we are drawn to people that reflect our behaviours, and yes, you can use that information to your advantage. But it must be subtle, almost subconscious, in its execution. If someone is aware that you’re copying them, you’ll come across as manipulative and untrustworthy.

In one recent experiment, waiters that were instructed to mirror their customers by repeating the order back to them verbatim received on average a tip that was 70% larger than those that used positive comments like “absolutely”, “great choice”, and “fantastic”.

To mirror, you need to be paying attention. You need to be in sync with the other person, and hanging on every word. You need to consider both verbal and nonverbal language. In short, you need to do everything that you should be doing anyway, and then reflect that back to them. But be warned...this one takes practice, finesse, and a delicate balance.

They’ll like you. They’ll really like you.

4. Show Genuine Interest

Uninterested Face

Dale Carnegie famously said that you need to be more interested than interesting in his seminal book How to Win Friends and Influence People. And he’s right. It’s not about you. It’s about them. Always.

Humans love attention. We love having someone interested in us and what we’re saying. So be that someone. Ask questions about what they’re talking about. Request clarification, additional details, and examples. And use their name...there is perhaps no sweeter word in any language to our ears than that of our own name. When someone uses it, even if only briefly, that person is our favourite person in the room.

Compliment and praise your colleagues when appropriate, but only when it’s genuine. Most people are very good at identifying insincere praise, and that’ll have the opposite effect...you’ll be the lying, no good suck-up.

5. Be an Active Listener

Listening and hearing are two very different things. We hear all the time. Background noise is with us virtually 24/7. We even hear in our sleep. But listening is active. It takes effort. A good listener nods, uses verbal cues like “mm-hm” and “right” to show engagement, does not interrupt, repeats what they’ve just listened to, and asks questions often (but not all the time). In fact, research suggests that the phrase “tell me more” makes you instantly more likeable to someone. That’s pretty dang easy, no?

Everyone loves a good listener. It’s usually ranked very high on the list of most desirable qualities in a person.

6. Display Positive Signals

Body language can make or break you. If you want to be liked, you have to send that out there. Most importantly? Smile. One study shows that we get just as much pleasure (as indicated in the brain’s reward mechanisms) from a beautiful smile as 2000 bars of chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate. It’s addictive and our go-to when we need a pick-me-up. Your smile could be the office Hersey bar if you have a genuine one that lights up a room.

Beyond that, avoid looking down at anyone, keep your palms up and open, and keep yourself slightly angled rather than full-on when talking to someone (otherwise you might come off as too dominant and threatening). Abstain from folding your arms across your chest, as it’s closed body language and off-putting.

Last but not least, try subtly nodding while talking to someone you need to agree with or to something. Some research suggests that we are more inclined to agreement after being exposed to nodding.

Another of Cialdini’s six weapons is “liking”. We’re inclined to say yes to and help those we like (makes sense). We like those that flatter and are similar to us (likes, dislikes, opinions, personality). Use these six hacks to be more likeable, and the more likeable you become, the more power and influence you’ll have.

I believe it was Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben that said “With great power comes great responsibility”. Use these hacks for good, not evil.  

See Also: How to Make New Friends at Work

Anything you’d add? What have you done to be more liked at work or in life? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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