3 Ways to Be More Likeable at Work

UPDATED: September 13, 2023
PUBLISHED: January 25, 2023
group of likeable colleagues talking

You know those people, the ones who are proficient at their job. But, if you’re being completely honest, they’re no rock stars. Yet, somehow, they always seem to get promoted—and it irks you because you know you’re better at the job than they are. They just might be more likeable.

Here’s the thing. It is not that we are doing something wrong; it is simply human nature to be driven by a primal need for connection. Just as we do not buy products rationally, we do not buy people rationally, either. We buy (and promote) people emotionally. Which means the game we are playing in the workplace, and in many other aspects of life, is not just a proficiency one. 

We gravitate toward things and people that make us feel good—we are chemically wired to. We are all addicts chasing feel-good endorphins. People that make us feel good make us want more of that feeling. That is why they often get ahead.

How to be more likeable

This makes being likeable a powerful skill, one that we all need to develop in the workplace. So here are some tips to improve your likeability:

1. Listen more.

Listening is like a superpower, and people who are likeable tend to intuitively understand this. They make time to listen to what others have to say. Take the best salespeople. They do not do that much talking; instead, they do a lot of listening. And you may not think you are in sales, but you are—we all are. If you are trying to get people to work with you, see things from your point of view or help you get done whatever it is you need doing, you are selling. The sale is always in the prospect, so spend time getting to know what it is they want and how you can help them get it.

2. Ask more.

This is perhaps the best human engagement tool ever—the magic question, “What do you think?” Four simple words that can change everything. Asking other people their opinion on the things you are working on and listening to their answer (see the previous tip) is a great way to make you more likeable at work. At the end of the day, it is about making other people feel valuable, that they make a difference.

3. Acknowledge more.

Do not underestimate the power of acknowledgement. A compliment (that you mean, not that you fake), a thank you or a “job well done” can increase your likeability instantly. It sounds so simple, and yet we often get too busy to remember to notice the things other people do. Make a point of stopping to think about the people that help you every day and taking time to circle back to them to say thanks.

Being likeable might not be something you can earn a degree in, but it certainly is something that can get you ahead in the workplace. Understand that the job you do is not just about the results you deliver, but the way you make those who work with you feel.

This article was published in November 2015 and has been updated. Photo by bbernard/Shutterstock

A behavioral researcher and strategist, as well as an author, educator, international speaker and social commentator, Dan Gregory specializes in behaviors and belief systems – what drives, motivates and influences us.  One of the most respected voices in the industry, Dan is a regular on ABC’s Gruen Planet and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world: Coca-Cola, Unilever, Vodafone, MTV and News Ltd.