The modern workplace could be better described as the social workplace. The best workers are no longer those who only work hard or do more work than expected, but those who work well with others to achieve an organisation’s goals. Sitting quietly in a corner isn’t going to lead you to true success in your career, so follow these social tips to help you thrive at work:
1. Start with a simple greeting
It doesn’t take much to greet someone, but a sincere greeting – followed up by a few questions – shows that you care about your co-worker. Make eye contact, smile, and enquire about the person’s family or any events they may have recently attended. Complimenting your colleague on their clothes, accomplishments, or new haircut can also work wonders in building a relationship. If you’re naturally someone who is introverted or reserved, you can follow this approach to gain confidence in interacting with others.
2. Ask open-ended questions
There are a number of benefits to asking open-ended questions. Allowing a person to talk about themselves is a good way to learn more about someone and to keep the conversation flowing. Questions such as “Tell me how everything is going?” or “What do you think of the new project we’re working on?” invite your co-worker to talk to you beyond a simple “yes” or “no”. By affirming or supporting what the person is saying, you also have the opportunity to show that you’re a good listener, which is one of the most appreciated soft skills in the modern workplace.
3. Be honest
There is nothing that can break trust faster than being found out once you’ve been dishonest. To be a respected employee, you have to secure the trust of your superiors and colleagues. If you can’t be trusted, there’s little chance of climbing up the promotion ladder or receiving good recommendations when you decide to look for another job. Your reputation can be shattered overnight if you’re caught in a lie, so don’t try to cover up your mistakes or pin them on other people.
4. Strive to be positive
Even if you aren’t an optimist, you need to recognise that people are naturally drawn to positive people. A negative attitude not only places you in a bad light, but can also spread to other colleagues and create a tense atmosphere at work. Try to avoid harshly criticising things you don’t like in the workplace; instead, look for alternative, positive solutions. Instead of looking firstly at what is wrong with something, look for what is right about it.
5. Seek advice, and give it in return
Asking advice from others about work issues, or even problems you’re having in other areas of your life, has a double-benefit. Firstly, you’ll often be able to find the answer that you were looking for, and secondly, it shows the person you’re approaching that you are interested in their opinion and that you respect it. When you are asked to give advice, answer as clearly and honestly as possible. If you’re not sure of the right answers, don’t mislead the person – this can quickly shatter trust in your workplace relationship.
6. Network as much you can
Face-to-face social interaction has dwindled thanks to social media, resulting in a general lack of social skills. By going out with your colleagues for drinks after work, and even by participating in healthy social activities outside the workplace (such as team sports, volunteer work, or workshops), you’re able to practise your social skills and develop relationships with a wide variety of people. Networking is extremely valuable for maintaining your social workplace standing and for building contacts who can help you to advance your career.
Whilst some people make social interactions look easy, others may find it more difficult. But social success in the workplace can be developed through regular practice, and through recognition that social skills can have huge benefits for you and your career.