The secret sauce to almost everyone’s professional success is likeability: a word that is so simple but also deeply misunderstood. Likeability is often confused with negative, status-seeking behaviors that can ultimately push others away. Professionals who exhibit genuine likeability traits are more likely to be given chances to excel, opportunities for development and acknowledgment for achievements than other equally-qualified employees.

“People who are well-liked are more likely than their equally-qualified counterparts to be hired, promoted, and even earn higher salaries.” – Mitch Prinstein

In other words, almost every professional wants to increase their likeability quotient in order to get ahead! There are perks to feeling like you fit in at work. Being well-liked also can lead to reduced stress, increased work fulfillment, happier personal lives and a potential reduction in anxiety-related disorders. You are better equipped to develop one of the most critical components of an ultimately successful career: relationships.

Managing Your Social Matrix

Humans are social creatures. We all have a deep need to fit into our social matrix and be a part our micro-community. Social matrices are complex and ever-evolving, and they have almost nothing to do with social media. Rather, a healthy social matrix revolves around how people interact with one another in person.

Just as likeability has become confused with grandstanding and social status, the social matrix has become confused with who posts the coolest stuff on social media. Being popular on social media won’t help you engage with people face-to-face. Those who are genuinely likable in person are those who achieve far more success than empty status-seekers.

Increase Your Likeability Quotient

If you desire an increase in workplace success, you must increase your likeability quotient. As John Maxwell says: “Greatness is not defined by what a person receives, but by what that person gives.” Our society is often obsessed with acquisition. Research reveals that those that are more focused on acquisition and status are more aggressive and often less capable of empathy.

An acquisitive mindset can derail you from achieving true fulfillment. The constant drive to obtain more things or status – collecting “stuff” (including “likes”) – is rooted in a fear of lack. Instead: adopt abundance thinking. The more you give away, the more you will receive.

5 Healthy Ways to Increase Your Professional Potential

1. Give away praise. Everyone appreciates positive acknowledgment. Avoid empty compliments by being specific and timely. If someone completed a task well, collaborated with you or provided support, speak up. I always make a point to find something to compliment in others. People experience plenty of negativity, so it’s heartwarming to see them smile. Smiling is positively contagious.

2. Give away your time. Time is precious; invest in other people. Taking the time to listen and learn about others is arguably one of the most caring behaviors you can exhibit. Nothing makes us feel more connected than when someone takes time out of his or her busy schedule to inquire about our lives and ask us how we are feeling. However, an empty “How are you” when passing in the hall doesn’t count. Stop, make eye contact and make the connection meaningful.

3. Give away your turn to speak. When we allow others to speak first, we can reflect upon their opinions before formulating an answer or idea of our own. This allows us to speak from a collaborative standpoint. Comments that acknowledge others’ ideas, while adding your own flavor, are more likely to gain buy-in than a suggestion put forth early in a discussion. Practice being the last to speak.

4. Give away stories. People who can tell lighthearted, compact stories are more engaging to be around. The ability to share a snippet of your life is a great way to connect with those in your social matrix. However, don’t fall into the trap of sharing drama, excessive negativity or long-winded diatribes with your colleagues. To increase your likeability quotient, be a person you would want to be around.

5. Give away kindness. Kindness might be the key to success. The bridge to building genuine connections and healthy business relationships has firm foundations in kindness. It’s a common business myth that people who get ahead do so by stepping on everyone else to get to the top. The truth is that’s a fast way to a fiery professional exit with everyone applauding your absence.

“The ability to establish great relationships with others seems to be every bit as important to success if not more, yet it’s not taught in a formal way.” – Daniel Clemens

The Secret Sauce to Your Success

Establishing yourself as a part of your office culture by giving away so much may sound counterintuitive. Traditional business culture is still mostly rooted in archaic hierarchical and power-hungry methods that are, fortunately, finally seeing real positive change. Those that fall into behavior traps based on greed, lack-mindedness, and insecurity may see short-term financial gains: but they will always fall short of long-term fulfillment.

Professionals that are socially accepted typically feel more fulfilled at work, happier at home, and less likely to suffer from addictions, depression, and anxiety. When you increase your likeability quotient by giving away praise and your time, collaborating and sharing with others – you will see your professional potential expand in a fundamentally positive and lasting fashion.