Does any of this sound familiar?
- You have to introduce yourself to the security guard every day to gain entrance to your office, and you’ve worked at the company for three years.
- At last year’s holiday gathering, the office manager mistakenly thought you were the Federal Express driver and handed you two packages instead of a glass of wine.
- You were out sick for nearly a week before anyone noticed you were gone.
Such treatment may frustrate you, or you may care less. But unless you’ve been wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, you need to be concerned with such a lack of popularity.
While being unpopular in school may not have mattered to you, being unpopular at work can mean you earn less money, aren’t considered for promotions and may be thought of only when the company is putting together a layoff list.
Toiling in obscurity may seem ideal to you, but it can be devastating to your career. It also can lead to less satisfaction at work, as research shows that strong social connections on the job can improve productivity, make you more passionate about what you do and less likely to quit your job. A Gallup Organization survey found that having close friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction by as much as 50%.
So how do you boost your popularity at work? Think about:
- Listening better. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who wasn’t tapping away on a smartphone, glancing at email or appearing distracted? If you offer your undivided attention to someone, you convey the message that you think they’re important. If you become a good sounding board, others are more likely to seek you out more often.
- Using good manners. Teenager Maya Van Wagenen was new to her Brownsville, Texas , school and wanted to be more popular. So using a 1950s etiquette book called “Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide,” Van Wagenen began to follow advice such as being yourself, not putting on “airs” and treating everyone with the same kindness. The advice not only helped the teen become more popular, but the chronicling of her efforts garnered her a $300,000 book deal. DreamWorks has optioned movie rights to the book. If being nice and polite can make a teenager popular and successful, why not you?
- Offering compliments. Compliments are a great way to make others feel good about themselves, and that can help them feel good about you. Just be careful of what you choose to compliment. For example, “You look sexy in that sweater” isn’t appropriate for the workplace. You also want to avoid awkward compliments that can backfire such as this one by writer Logan Rhoades offered on Daily Odd Compliments: “You have really nice taste. And by that I mean you like the same stuff as me.” Offering praise for a good presentation or insightful comment in a meeting is always a safe bet.
- Avoiding gossip. Do you like being gossiped about? No? Neither does anyone else. Don’t do it if you want to be liked by other people.
- Don’t fake it ‘til you make it. Don’t try to be someone you’re not when you’re trying to increase your popularity. We all have individual strengths and gifts, so think about the positive things people have said about you. Use those abilities to increase your popularity, whether it’s an ability to stay calm during stressful times or a gift for negotiating. When you use your abilities to help others, you will be seen as likeable, not phony.
- Showing confidence. Put your shoulders back, hold your head high and constantly remind yourself of your positive qualities. Research by Columbia Business School found that individuals who wrote down their accomplishments and goals before going into a group setting not only showed greater initiative during initial group discussions, but they also appeared more competent to teammates.
What are some other ways to gain popularity at work to help your career?