Workplace Likability Comes From Being Genuine, Not Manipulative

Conor Cawley

Everyone wants to be liked. Whether you're out with your friends or in the office with your coworkers, being disliked is worse than being asked to speak in public. But what makes someone likable is not an exact science, leading people in workplaces across the country to try everything from TV show viewing parties to water cooler banter to get ahead. But apparently, you just have to be genuine.

According to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist Mitch Prinstein, there are two kinds of workplace popularity that can define your role in the company. The first is status, your social reputation with coworkers. The second, and perhaps more important, is likability, your social preference among coworkers. And, as he puts it, you should be focused on the latter.

“Likability is one of the most valuable commodities, not just in the business world but in all of our social relationships,” said Prinstein to World Economic Forum. “We should be investing in it as much as we invest in anything else that we hope will help our lives.”

Be Open and Helpful

But the age old question persists: HOW?! When the cards are down, being likable is incredible difficult when it doesn't come naturally. Fortunately, in an office setting, it's less about being socially tuned to your coworkers and more about being as helpful and open as possible.

“The most likable people are those who cooperate with others, are helpful, share, and follow the rules,” said Prinstein.

The place where these to forms of likability cross over can make for incredibly successful and pleasant entrepreneurs. Pursuing status isn't inherently bad. It's when you pursue status without considering the consequences on your likability that creates problems for your future. And if you don't know what that means, you're probably doing just fine.

“I think as long as somebody is not pursuing status at the expense of likability, that's fine,” Prinstein said. “But the easiest ways to gain status are to engage in the things that would thwart likability: to be aggressive, to be focused on oneself, to try and dominate others.”

While these tips might come more easily to some than to others — we all have that guy in the office — it's important for everyone to try to listen to others and tone down the aggression, if only to boost your popularity.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.