Have you been given the advice to not care what people think about you? That’s bad advice.
What other people think about us is — whether we like it or not — a large part of what will determine our success in the future.
None of us work in a vacuum. We are always working with other people, whether they are our bosses, coworkers, clients, vendors, or even just peers in our field who we see from time to time. And these people are the ones who will help us or hurt us.
Humans are judging creatures; we have evolved that way. It keeps us safe in the wild, and we are hardwired to make quick decisions about our safety and success based on limited interactions.
So how are you coming across? Whether you like it or not, how other people think of you will determine how successful you are.
How to build relationships the benefit you (and everyone else!)
The way other people perceive you will affect your relationships with them. If you are someone they want to know and work with, you’ll have a different kind of relationship than if you’re someone who annoys them or who they think of as a slacker.
You might feel like, “Well, okay — but I have no control over what other people think.”
But that is not true.
You actually have all the power you need when it comes to managing your relationships and how people view you. It is all about reframing the conversation.
Do you think that in life you just have to be yourself and hope it works out, or if someone doesn’t like you to just forget them? Nope — that is a passive mindset.
Instead, think about the you that you want to be and why. How do you want to be known? What do you want people to appreciate you for? Why?
Then look at the people around you. What is important to them? How can you be someone who helps them succeed? How can you make yourself someone they admire?
This isn’t about changing who you are, or not being yourself. You don’t have to change your personality so that people will like you; instead, it is about acknowledging that people will think *something* about you and deciding to invest in making that something positive.
Make a good first impression
When you meet someone for the first time, that interaction is 100% of the information they have about you. What will they think, based on this one interaction alone?
As you spend more time with someone, that first impression becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of their overall impression of you — but of course, you need the first impression to go well in order to get the chance to keep creating positive interactions.
To make a good first impression, you don’t need a lot of special strategies or tricks. Instead, simply try reverse engineering it. What is the outcome you want to walk away with? Do you want to get hired by this person? Make this person excited about a project you’re working on?
Then think about how you can achieve that goal, by thinking about what the other person wants. What do they need, that will make them want to hire you? What are they excited about, that will get them excited about your project?
When you think about the other person, you are far more effective — after all, you’re trying to win them over, not yourself.
Unfortunately, a lot of people put stock in making a great first impression, and then stop investing the energy in making lasting impressions that will actually add value to their lives. So the work doesn’t stop here; you’re just getting started!
Be nice to everyone
Yes, everyone. Even the coworkers you don’t like — it’s actually extra important to be nice to them.
Why? Because it’s really hard to be mean to your friends, so you really want to make your least favorite coworkers see you as a friend. If someone is making your life difficult, resist the urge to fight fire with fire. Instead, make it your mission to win them over.
Take them out to lunch or coffee and ask them about themselves. Don’t get into any personal issues (ie. “It seems like you don’t like me…”) and instead, just focus on getting to know them. Humans love to talk about themselves, and we like people who give us that opportunity.
Then follow up, consistently. Call them out in a meeting for something great they did, or thank them privately for something they did that really helped you.
If someone at work doesn’t like you or seems to make your life more difficult, don’t let that be the end of the conversation or write them off. It could actually be just the beginning of a huge success.
Aside from tricky coworkers, being nice to everyone is also smart because you never know who will be in a position to give you an amazing opportunity someday. An intern today could be a successful CEO who you want to work for in 10 years. Will they remember you? Will you be someone they want on their team?
Plus, being nice just feels better. You’ll go through your day happier — and things will be accomplished much more easily — if you are genuinely nice to everyone you interact with.
Commiserating and complaining often brings people together; unfortunately, it also makes you look like less than a team player and can even cause lasting damage to relationships.
At best, complaining just brings lowers your value as a teammate. Wouldn’t you rather be the person who solves the problem than the one who complains about the problem?
And at worst, negative talk can irreparably damage relationships. Imagine if you were complaining about a coworker and that person found out. How likely do you think they are to want to help you next time you need them? What if you were interviewing for a job one day, and it turned out this person was on the hiring committee?
Plus, what kind of impression are you making on the person who you are complaining to? Now they know you will talk about people behind their backs, which erodes their trust in you.
Negative talk is the easy way out. Truly successful people focus on solutions.
Reflect on yourself
Think about what struggles you currently have in your career. Do you have a hard time getting people to take you seriously? Are you in constant conflict with the same coworkers? Do you get passed up for opportunities for people who you think don’t work as hard as you?
Try reframing those issues and looking at them through the lens of the other people involved.
If new clients don’t take you seriously, for example, try looking at your email style or your wardrobe. Do you lose people after a few initial emails? Maybe you could be communicating better. Do people not take your advice after face-to-face meetings? Maybe the way you are presenting yourself in the world doesn’t reflect the confidence you think it does.
Of course, you can keep doing things the way you’ve always done them — there are plenty of successful people who are bad at email or who don’t dress well. But you may be creating an additional hurdle for yourself that doesn’t have to be there.
Be open to trying new ways of being and see if they work better for you. Be really honest about what is working for you and what might not be working, and see if there are ways you can experiment with new strategies that might be more effective.
Take charge of your relationships
You have the power to improve your relationships. It is all about deciding to take the initiative and create positive interactions everywhere you go.
No, it’s not as easy, but yes, it is worth it.
Do you have challenging relationships at work? What do you think you can do to fix them? Send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or share them on our Facebook page to get advice from our amazing community!