How to Gain Likeability and Respect at Work


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How to be liked and respected at the workplace?

If you believe that work is simply about getting the job done well and on time, you should reconsider.

Working is not only about what you do, but also about how you do it — these two components combine to form your reputation.

And you must have realized by now that reputation is extremely important in any professional setting.

You’ll be promoted based not only on what you do, but also on how others perceive your abilities.

Everyone at your workplace will interpret your actions, and you’ll need to decide what kind of relationships you want to develop at work at some point. Do you prefer to be liked or respected?

Here are some pointers to help you deal with this problem and establish a solid reputation in your field.

Why It Isn’t Enough to Be Liked

Choosing between liking and respecting is frequently interpreted as a choice between Machiavellian love and fear. His well-known viewpoint was as follows:

“If you can’t be both, it’s better to be feared than loved.”

This influences our perception of effective leadership. Perhaps greatness stems from the ability to balance warmth and strength? And how does this sentence apply to regular employees who interact with coworkers and managers?

Being liked or perceived as nice appears to have no negative consequences, but it does. Being nice puts you at risk of being identified as:

  • Whose pleasant disposition can be exploited
  • Who never gets to work on those coveted assignments?
  • Who is never promoted?

It’s simple: being liked at work will not help you advance in your career.

How to Avoid Being Overly Pleasant

This is especially important for new female professionals. Women are raised in environments where they are expected to be nice girls, but sitting still and speaking only when spoken to will not get them far in their careers.

Here are a few pointers to help you avoid being too nice in the workplace:

  • Avoid disclosing excessive personal information.
  • Participate actively in company politics.
  • Don’t just sit back and wait for the right opportunities to come knocking.
  • Avoid apologizing for the mistakes of others.
  • Stop trying to please everyone.
  • Accept that confrontations are occasionally necessary.
  • Improve your assertiveness.

Exuding warmth is important for developing meaningful relationships with your coworkers, but keep in mind that you’re at work, and those people aren’t usually meant to be your friends.

Set your sights on your professional goal and devote all of your energy to it — being nice will only distract you from your mission.

Why Look for Respect?

Let us take a moment to consider what it means to be respected at work. Respect is characterized by a positive sense of deference or esteem for a person and their actions.

We admire people who are experts in their fields and aren’t afraid to demonstrate (and share!) their knowledge with others. Respect is earned by those who are recognized for their efforts; this is how they assert their right to be heard and seen.

Being nice will not earn you respect. It takes a lot of effort to earn the respect of your coworkers, but the effort is well worth it. It is what will make executives take notice of you and recommend you for advancement.

How to Earn Respect

Here are a few pointers to help you gain respect at work:

  • Improve your self-esteem. This does not imply that you should become more aggressive, but rather more emphatic and confident. You should strive to develop a professional identity throughout your career. Never compromise or sell out on your identity because it is what will earn you respect.
  • Show others how you want to be treated. Others will be willing to extend the same courtesy to you if you treat them with respect. Learn how to bargain in relationships to get what you want. Allow yourself to train those around you to treat you with respect and dignity. Accepting aggressive, controlling, or bossy behaviors is the same as rewarding others for unacceptable attitudes.
  • Stop being concerned about what others will think. When making a critical decision, consider the implications for the business. Making a difficult decision will not make others dislike you if you pay attention to how you do it.
  • Accept responsibility for your errors. When you take on positions of responsibility, you will take risks and make mistakes. You will gain their respect if you dare to acknowledge them and show others what you’ve learned from them.
  • Men and women respond differently to different behaviors. According to a recent study, men who get angry tend to get more respect, higher status, and better job titles. They gain favor with others because their rage demonstrates that they care. Women’s anger elicits a completely different reaction because they are perceived as emotional beings. Women gain respect by remaining calm and rational in the face of extreme stress.
  • Use appropriate body language. You’d be surprised at how much influence body language has on our interactions. Check your body language before entering any situation to avoid leaning away, crossing your arms, or touching your face (or other parts of your body) — this conveys a lack of confidence and makes you appear less approachable.

Are you liked and respected?

This is an issue that must be addressed. Some of you may be wondering why professionals can’t be both. They can, in fact. According to Forbes, we can be liked and respected by striking the right balance between strength (the source of respect) and warmth (the source of personal likability).

But can you imagine how much effort it takes to maintain this balance while also preparing for the inevitable pendulum effect?

We must also consider the issue in terms of gender. Being perceived as a person who does their job well clearly comes from a different place in men and women. It’s the same when it comes to that delicate balance of likability and respect.

For men, likeability and respect are positively correlated, while for women, they are negatively correlated. Women who are successful and good at their jobs usually pay a likability penalty, especially if they work in male-dominated fields.

Men appear to have a better chance of being liked and respected than women. Female professionals, as expected, will have to work much harder to maintain this balance, or they will be forced to choose one option over the other. According to our observations of women in executive positions, they prefer respect over likability.

Think About Your Reputation

When considering career advancement, you should always consider reputation. Consider the following questions:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What do I want to change about my reputation as I advance in my career?
  • In terms of reputation, what does my industry expect from professionals like me?
  • What kind of reputation will help me achieve my objectives?

Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself on a regular basis. It’s the most effective way to ensure that you’re on the right track toward becoming the professional persona you want to be.

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