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How to Be More Likeable at Work

Be Liked and Get Along With Coworkers


Colleagues celebrating in office, young woman holding cake
Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Why is it important to be likeable? In fact, what does it even mean? Being likeable in the workplace means that you offend less people and that your coworkers enjoy being around you. If they like having you around, they will offer to help you more, invite you to lunch more often, and genuinely pull for you. These are important traits to have in any relationship, but in the work environment it can mean that your overall satisfaction will be improved.

Likeable Versus Phony

It's important to note here that being likeable does not mean that you act artificial. Don't make jokes if that isn't your personality, don't try and force a huge smile on your face when it isn't sincere, and never tell lies that compliment people in an effort to be liked.

If you feel like you're "trying to hard" you probably are. You need to be yourself. Everyone can be more likeable by focusing on some key things, and you can do this without changing your personality.

Don't Get Sucked Into Office Gossip

Gossip seems like such a harmless thing at first, because in small doses it can give the impression that you're bonding with your coworkers. But what happens then when someone in your "group" gets gossiped about by another in your circle? The problem with gossip is that it doesn't end, but continues to spread. People who are willing to share gossip about others might also do it to you down the road.

The other issue is that you might not be able to really get to know people at work because you'll base everything they say and do on the impression you have of them from the gossip. Your work relationship will be tainted by the preconceived notions you develop based on the rumors you've heard. Have you ever heard that someone is, for example, "A bear that rips people's heads off" when they make a mistake? You might have never seen this person do it, but you'll still have that impression of them based on the gossip you heard.

If you hear someone gossiping, just walk away. Don't engage them and don't add to it. Don't "scold" them and tell them they shouldn't do it, either, because they know that already and it certainly won't get you liked. Instead, let the way you conduct yourself give them the impression that you're really not interested in gossip.

Be Approachable
If you're someone that just wants to get through the day and then go home, you might be giving off the impression that you're not interested in getting to know your coworkers. To help change this:

  • Eat your lunch with others instead of alone at your desk.

  • Ask people how their weekend was.

  • Smile at people and say "good morning" or "have a nice evening."

  • When someone comes to you for information or to ask a question, stop what you are doing and make eye contact so you can listen. You might be swamped or feel like you don't have the time, but don't give that impression to your coworker. Make them feel as if helping them is a priority for you.

  • Participate in office parties, luncheons, birthday cards, etc.

Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

Before you jump to conclusions about people, get to know them. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you fully understand what makes them tick. For instance, someone who seems crabby might have a lot of pressure on them. Another person who seems angry may be dealing with a lot of things you can't understand.

Assume the good in your coworkers first. If they change your mind with their actions and you find out later they aren't so good, then you can move on. You haven't lost anything. But if you imagine what their motives are for things you think they're doing, you'll be wasting a lot of time and emotion on a false belief, and losing a potential friend in the process.

Be Respectful of Others and Take Care of Yourself

Being likeable means that you're respectful of others around you. Don't slather on cologne or perfume, for instance. Make sure you do the basics, like bathe daily, wear acceptable work attire, and make sure your appearance is appropriate for where you work. Respect the boundaries that people have by monitoring your phone voice or radio volume. Don't be someone that uses speaker phone when you're in a cubicle environment, for example. You'll be shouting into your phone and disrupting others.

Own Up to Your Mistakes
You don't have to grovel when you mess up on a project, but don't shrug off blame either. Own up to the things you do wrong, apologize, and then move on. By the same note, accept the apologies of your coworkers as well.

Compliment Others
In order for a compliment to be received well, it has to be sincere. So don't do this if you're not feeling it. However, if you feel like there is never anything to compliment in your coworkers, perhaps you are looking at them with a more negative lens than need be.

Don't rush to judgment with people so you can appreciate them for the unique strengths they bring to your company. When you do that, you'll have an easier time giving kudos.

Be Positive in Your Dealings With People
If you're not naturally a positive person, this can be rough. Nevertheless, there is no better place to learn about positive thinking than in the office environment. Being positive means that you:

  • Encourage new ideas.

  • Accept change.

  • Focus on goals (of your company and coworkers) and not shortcomings.

  • Assume you, and the others in your office, will succeed.

  • Roll with setbacks.

Once again, being positive doesn't mean that you're phony. Instead, it means that you refuse to get caught up in negative thinking about your company's intentions, goals, or interactions with you. If you're someone that always looks for the worst, you'll find it. But what will that gain you? You'll be unhappy with your job and stuck in a place of negativity that will hinder your own performance. Worst of all, people will avoid you.

The more you focus on the positive, however, the more you'll see things from that perspective.

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