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12 Things You Should Say At Work To Become More Likeable

12 Things You Should Say At Work To Become More Likeable

Camaraderie is an important component of what keeps us going back to work. As humans, we have an innate need for social acceptance. The bulk of our days is spent in a social setting: the workplace! There is a strong need for us to like the people we work with (and for the people we work with to like us!)

How can you increase this likeability factor? Here are 12 simple phrases to use that will up the ante for you.

1. “Hi or Hello”

Before you roll your eyes at the simplest of phrases, hear me out. In my 15 years of professional life, a simple “Hi” has proven to be the most powerful. How? When you see someone, even someone you don’t know, acknowledge their presence with a Hi. This simple act of acknowledging another person’s presence is extremely powerful. I’ve seen people who avert their eyes or look down when they do not know you. It definitely appears rude on the receiving end. Every time you pass someone in the hallway, or in the break room, rest room, elevator, parking deck… irrespective of the place, acknowledge them with a Hi or Hello or Good morning.

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2. “Thank you”

Another simple but powerful phrase is a Thank You. No, a cursory thanking will not cut it. The Thank You has to be heartfelt. Even simple gestures like someone holding the elevator door or handing your mail, warrants a heartfelt thank you. People feel happy to be of help to others. By thanking them, you make them feel like they’ve been of service. This instantly makes them like you.

3. “How are you?”

3 simple words that convey the message that you care. At times it may be a conversation starter. At other times it may be an outlet for someone. I remember a few years ago, when I asked this simple question to a co-worker, the flood gates opened. She was going through a personal situation and did not have anyone to share it with. She viewed the “How are you” as an invitation to share and was able to open up. Sharing what she was going through gave her a huge relief. Giving that opportunity is a sure-fire way to get someone to like you more.

4. “I understand”

In the incident with my co-worker, all I did was to listen and say “I understand”. That’s all you need to do at times to help someone feel heard. Its not uncommon for people to feel frustrated as they come out of a meeting. They may feel like no one gets them or what they are trying to say or do. As they vent to you, acknowledge their thoughts and actions with an “I understand”. On the receiving end, your co-worker will feel a sense of relief to know someone else gets them.

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5. “How can I help?”

Asking someone how you can help lets people know that they are not alone, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to carrying someone else’s load. Still, asking opens the path to conversation. At times, all they may need is a listening ear. Talking about what is needed and being willing to help in any small way is impactful. I’ve come across people who are afraid to ask this question in case they are unable to deliver on the help that is asked of them; hence, they shy away from this question. Showing someone that you are willing to do something for them is a likeability booster.

5. “I believe in you”

This one is huge! People need someone to believe in them. Instead of masking that belief in actions that may or may not come across, just say it. As an example, a supervisor hands a piece of work and adds the words “I believe you can do this.” The fact that their supervisor trusts them with that piece of work is an ego boost for the individual. And will motivate them to do a good job and not let down their boss. I’ve personally done above and beyond when my boss has expressed her belief in my capabilities or trusted me with stretch assignments. And yes, I definitely liked my boss more after that!

7. “What I hear you saying is:”

Repeating what you just heard proves that you were paying attention. In this age of short attention spans, give someone your full attention and repeat the information back to them to confirm it. More likeable for sure.

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8. “Well Done”

I don’t understand why people find it difficult to say “Job Well done”. We dole insane amounts of “good job” to kids, but find it difficult to do it to adults. Personal rants aside, acknowledging someone for their effort is encouraging and motivating. We don’t have to give out plaques or other forms or rewards at all times.  Saying “Job Well Done” at an opportune time in front of the team is equal to or better than a plaque on the wall that no one sees. In turn, it causes people to like you more as you see their effort and their work.

9. “What do you think?”

A powerful way to show respect. Encourage others to share what they think and express their opinions. It causes them to feel included, feel respected and that their opinion matters. The people I like the most at work are the inclusive ones, the ones who show that they care enough about others to include them.

10. “Absolutely”

When you are given work, there are three ways to react to it. Not saying anything and doing it; not saying anything to the person but griping about it to others; and the third way is to respond with “Absolutely!”. Showing enthusiasm when asked to do something, causes an instant delight. And boosts your likeability index.

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11. “Great Question”

A common problem at workplaces is people hesitating to ask questions. They are afraid of getting shot down, laughed at or ignored. When someone is brave enough to ask a question, respect and acknowledge that with a “Great Question” comment. This will ease the nerves of the person asking the question and encourage them to clarify their doubts. In a large setting, it encourages others to open up as well. When you put someone at ease, it naturally causes them to like you.

12. “Tell me more”

A definite way of showing interest! Sometimes, it may be difficult to give someone the time you need at work to listen. When you sense a time consuming conversation, don’t cut off the person and walk away. Let them know that you are short on time, but you want to hear more. Tell them that you will reach out soon to find out more. And keep up the promise! Follow up with the person and find out more. Giving people your time and expressing interests again aids in increasing likeability.

What are some other common phrases that others have said to that make you like them?

Featured photo credit: Andrey/Imagefinder.co via imagefinder.co

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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