10 simple ways to win people over at work

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Most of us spend an average of eight to ten hours at work, whether in the office or remotely. That’s a huge chunk of our day that we have to interact with coworkers. 

And whether we like it or not, the pleasantness or unpleasantness of those interactions depends on how much they like and respect us. 

So, how do we make our work days more productive? How do we get on our coworkers’ good side and steer clear of eye rolls, brush-offs, and general unfriendliness?

Here are some simple ways: 

1) Get to know your coworkers

Alright, let’s start with the very basic rule of winning people over – be interested in them!

I can imagine some of you are cringing at this, especially the ones who aren’t exactly the friendly type. 

But there’s no getting around it. To win people over, you have to want to get to know them. 

It’s all about building rapport, not because you need anything specific from them, but merely for the sake of making connections and working together smoothly. 

After all, it’s not crazy to think that we sometimes spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our families! 

Now, here’s where it gets tricky – be careful not to pry into their personal lives too much that it feels invasive rather than friendly. 

A good rule is to start with general topics that make them instantly comfortable – their hobbies, favorite restaurants, bands, etc. 

Believe me, finding common ground with another person isn’t as hard as we think. You know why? Because we’re actually all more alike than different! 

You just have to be willing to…

2) Listen

Is listening an underrated skill? You bet! 

Most people like to talk more than they listen. And that’s fine, except that it can be exhausting. And ultimately, a huge turn-off. 

So, be the listener in your workplace. The one who makes people feel safe and seen and heard. The one who responds with empathy and understanding. 

Learn to read body language, too. Studies show that body language plays a significant role in successful conversations in the workplace. 

When you pay attention to what people really say, you’ll be able to do this next thing…

3) Be flexible 

By flexibility, I mean that you can adjust your communication and work style to the person you’re dealing with.

Let’s say you’re talking to a coworker. You notice how they stand stiffly and respond in a super soft voice. How can you better respond to them? 

By speaking softly as well, maybe moving slowly, too. This coworker might likely be an introvert or a shy person, so rapid-fire talk might intimidate them or make them feel even more anxious. 

Or maybe you’ve got another coworker who prefers detailed emails to face-to-face convos. Adapt and communicate that way to make your interactions smoother.  

That means you’ll have to be a little bit of a chameleon. But you know what? 

That ability is going to serve you well because you’ll come across as someone who’s socially savvy and sensitive

4) Go with the flow 

While we’re on the topic of adapting, let’s talk a bit about going with the flow. This is similar to adjusting your communication style, but more in the context of the company culture. 

Let me tell you about my experience in one of my previous jobs. When I first started there, I would dress and behave in a more formal manner. I’d come from a company that wasn’t exactly relaxed, so I was used to speaking in formal terms. 

The new one, though, was the opposite. People came to work wearing casual clothes and spoke very casually as well (even emails would often start with “Hey!”). And they’d get together after work for drinks from time to time. 

I definitely stood out like a sore thumb with my “Dear Mr/Ms…” emails and my buttoned-up outfits. 

So, again, adapting is key. I started letting my hair down, dressing more casually, saying “yeah” instead of “yes”, and joining my coworkers for drinks every now and then. 

Those simple changes definitely earned me some points in the “she’s one of us” department. 

Aside from that, be adaptable to the workflow itself. The truth is, the workplace is a constantly changing environment (or at least the dynamic ones are). 

Projects shift, deadlines move (oftentimes up), and new tasks magically appear on your tray. If you want to win people over, don’t lose your cool. Be a team player and stay upbeat while these changes roll out. 

5) Look for the good in people

What if you don’t like the people you work with? How can you be a team player then? 

I totally get it. I’ve had my share of colleagues I’d rather avoid, but, well, I couldn’t. 

The next best thing to do is to look for the good in them. Because no matter how much they annoy you, there’s always something positive to note. 

They might be cranky, but they always deliver on time. 

They might be sloppy, but they make up for it with creativity. 

They might go on and on about their cat/dog/parrot, but boy, do they stay calm under pressure. 

Hopefully, you get the point. Focusing on the positives will help your interactions go more smoothly (or at least less unpleasant). And who knows, you might even end up being work besties with them!

6) Avoid gossiping

Now, you might get the temptation to talk behind your coworkers’ backs when they’re not exactly your favorite people to work with.

But trust me – while gossiping might feel good in the moment, it has the potential to damage your relationship with your coworkers. 

And your reputation. Once your name winds up as one of the perpetrators of a rumor mill, people will trust you less

So, steer clear of gossiping. Your coworkers will see you as respectful and trustworthy, and that will definitely win you a lot of points. 

7) Be considerate

What else would earn you brownie points in the office? Being considerate. 

That means doing things like: 

  • Cleaning up your own mess in the break room and other shared spaces 
  • Bringing donuts or cookies to share
  • Minding your noise level
  • Coming to meetings on time 
  • Replying to emails right away
  • Respecting people’s privacy

Basically, it’s all about being polite, thoughtful, and respectful. You’ll be a force of light in the office! 

8) Offer help

Another simple way to win people over at work is to offer help when they need it. 

Remember, there’s no “I” in team, as the old cliche goes. Whenever you’re quick to help, you’ll definitely come across as a real team player

People like feeling seen and supported. And when the time comes that you’re the one who needs help, trust me, they’re more likely to return the favor. 

9) Always express gratitude

This one’s a no-brainer. And yet, how mindful are we in expressing gratitude at work? 

In my book, any coworker that remembers to thank me when I help them is a decent person who doesn’t feel entitled. 

In the same way, I remember to thank them, even for little things like showing up to a meeting on time. 

Acknowledging help builds a culture of supportiveness, and it definitely makes the workplace a more pleasant place to be. 

10) Give and take constructive criticism graciously

Finally, we get to one of the hardest parts of the work life – feedback. 

Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of it, constructive criticism can be tricky to deal with. 

But in both cases, the answer is simple: always aim to be gracious. What does that look like in practice? 

If you’re the one giving it, approach the conversation with empathy and respect. And most importantly, transparency. 

Personally, I believe that being transparent (instead of couching negative feedback with positive, as the Sandwich Approach does) frames the feedback right away as the learning opportunity it’s meant to be. 

And the conversation should be two-way. Give the other person a chance to share their perspective. That way, it becomes an opportunity to work together towards improvement. 

If, on the other hand, you’re on the receiving end, make sure you maintain an open mind instead of getting defensive about it. 

You want to show that you’re professional, progress-oriented, and want to do better. That’s always a winning attitude! 

Final thoughts

Winning people over at work doesn’t mean you’ll have to bend over backwards to please them. Nor does it mean approaching them with flattery and the intent of winning them over. That’s actually counterproductive. 

To truly win people over, the key is to come from a place of authenticity and the pure intention of wanting to connect, with or without benefits. 

When people sense that you’re truly interested in them and value what they have to say, that’s already half the job done! 

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Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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