Saturday, October 6, 2007, 12:05AM ET - U.S. Markets Closed.

Penelope Trunk The Brazen Careerist

Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist

Making Yourself More Likable at Work

by Penelope Trunk

Good (2148 Ratings)
Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 12:00AM

Ask yourself: Do people like me?

You get promoted in this world because people like you, not because you get work done. There's always more than one person who can get a job done. But everyone's personality is different, so when you want to differentiate yourself at work, focus on your personality.

Showing the True You

In fact, a 2005 study published in the Harvard Business Review shows that people would rather work with someone they like who's incompetent than someone who's competent but not likable.

Keep in mind that "likable" is not as subjective as it seems. Most people in the office agree on who's likable and who's not. For example, most people like Bill Clinton -- he just has a likable personality. Even the Bush family members, Clinton's political polar opposites, say they like his personality.

So, if you want to get ahead at the office, you need to figure out how to make yourself likable. Usually, it's not a matter of changing your personality, but rather making sure that your true personality shows through. Most people, if they're true to themselves at work, are likable.

Ten Ways to Blow It

Then again, most people think they're more likable than they really are, and therefore don't try hard enough. There are many things that keep people from being likable -- here's a list of 10 of them:

Using sarcasm as a defense mechanism

You probably don't know if you're using sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but if you use it a lot, it's a safe bet that it's in a defensive way.

Being quiet because you're insecure

People are inherently social animals. If you have nothing that you want to say, then you're probably not likable because you have nothing to offer.

But if you do have things to say but don't say them, then you're not likable only because you're so insecure that you believe you'll sound stupid when you talk.

Not revealing emotions at work

Keeping to yourself emotionally makes you seem one-dimensional, and it's hard to convey likability with no depth. Most people who talk but don't reveal emotions are out of touch with their emotions. You have to know them yourself to share them with other people.

Reaching Others by Reaching Out

Being too smug -- as in not asking for help or not revealing that you've had help along the way

To show no gratitude or no need for others is to alienate yourself. You might think that you make yourself look like Superman, able to do anything in a single bound. But superheroes don't really exist, and real people need real help. So let them know you understand this by asking for help and expressing appreciation.

Not seeing people for who they are

If you treat people who are powerful well and people who have no power poorly then you aren't seeing the whole person. Power structures don't define a person; they define a person's clout. Treat everyone with respect or you won't deserve it yourself.

Being bored by others

If you're not curious about other people, they won't be interested in you. The most likable people make other people feel interesting by genuinely caring about them.

Me, Me, Me

Being obsessed with your workload

If you think work matters more than people, then that'll be true -- for you. And people will expect you to be a workhorse but won't want to get to know you. And they need to know you to like you.

Not taking responsibility

If people don't like you, it's your own fault. Likable people are liked in all circumstances. If you blame people for your problems, people aren't going to like you -- even if they're not among the people you blame.

Hiding from objective feedback

You can get it from therapists, co-workers, teachers, and coaches, but you have to seek it out. And if you don't, then you probably don't have a good sense of your least likable qualities. So you don't have the knowledge to make yourself likable.

Not trying to change

All the knowledge in the world can't overcome an inability to change. The ego is very strong and can rationalize anything. Don't let yours do that. Take criticism to heart, and address it no matter how likable you think you are to begin with.

You'll be more likable right away, because listening to others and trying to change are both inherently likable qualities.

Rate This story

Good (2148 Ratings)
to rate!


Showing comments 1-5 of 654Next >>
Sort: first to last
  • MoMoney - Friday, September 14, 2007, 3:46PM ET

    • Overall: 2/5

    sorry, Ms. Carol - I'd say jazzygraffix hit it more on the head that Penelope could ever hope to

  • MS CAROL - Thursday, September 13, 2007, 9:00AM ET

    • Overall: 5/5

    It's a wonder that most of these respondants have jobs. The writer hit the nail right on the head. As a manager of a department in a small town, office politics are a way of life. You can put your best self forward, and might I add, for your own sake and personal best, or you can complain and backbite, and be part of the problem. What I have learned is that the people who feed negativity into the environment is not only toxic, but unproductive. It's no wonder so many people are unhappy--it's there own fault. P.S. Don't always blame your boss for your own misery!

  • marvin - Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 1:22PM ET

    • Overall: 1/5

    Please learn how to write first, before teaching others anything. Poorly done article

  • jazzygraffix - Friday, August 3, 2007, 3:37PM ET

    • Overall: 1/5

    Trying to please everyone is called "Approval Addiction". That's not healthy. Look, I've been pretty successful career-wise. In my current role, I've learned that managers cannot expect to be liked by everyone. Take it from Colin Powell. Don't let being "nice" be a top priority. A Leadership Primer from General (Ret.) Colin Powell, Secretary of State Lesson 1 Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off. Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's inevitable if you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You'll avoid the tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.

  • Yahoo! Finance User - Monday, July 30, 2007, 3:24PM ET

    • Overall: 1/5

    "People are inherently social animals. If you have nothing that you want to say, then you're probably not likable because you have nothing to offer." Wow. That's some straight talk, Sally. Where did this advice originate? The Sociopath's Guide to Eugenic Workplace Advancement? I mean, everyone in the office likes pretentious, know-it-alls who never shut up.

Showing comments 1-5 of 654Next >>

Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success

The rules for success have changed, and if you want to get ahead you'll need the brazen yet effective advice in Penelope Trunk's new book. It's guaranteed to get you thinking bigger, acting bolder, and blazing trails you never thought possible so that you can succeed in your career -- on your own terms.

Buy Brazen Careerist now.

More from Yahoo! Sources

  • CNN Money
  • Consumer Reports
  • Kiplinger
  • The Motley Fool
  • Business Week
  • Wall Street Journal

Sponsored Links

Compare Mortgage Quotes
Up to 5 Free Quotes with 1 Form. Refi or Home Equity. Intro Terms.
Earn 4.30% APY at ING DIRECT
Open online in under 5 minutes. No fees. No minimums. FDIC guaranteed.
Refinance and Save $1,000S
$150,000 Mortgage for $483/month. Compare up to 4 free quotes.
Refinance $300,000 for Only $965/Month
$300,000 Mortgage for only $965/month. Save $1,000's - No obligation.
Fed Lowers Interest Rates
$180,000 Mortgage only $999/mo. See Rates: No SSN Required - Refi Now.
Car Insurance Quotes Online
Compare auto insurance quotes from top companies online.