Have you ever worked with someone whom everyone liked? Their advice is always respected. Their opinions are actively sought. This person is an integral member of your team and possesses serious mojo when dealing with others, too. What this person has is influence, but how did he or she get to be this way?
Success in the workplace is the ability to master two different types of skills. There are “hard skills” in which you can acquire through formal education or can be verified either through certifications or testing. These are the types of skills you would include on your resume or employers include in their list of desired qualifications for a specific position. And soft skills are the secret to successful project managers in the workplace.
But often what sets successful people apart aren’t skills that one can learn through instruction. These are referred to as “soft skills.” And soft skills are the secret to successful people in the workplace. Although they can’t be taught, there’s nothing stopping you from practicing your soft skills. In fact, it’s the only way you’re going to build up your own personal mojo.
Let’s take a look at some commonalities influential people share and see how you can apply these throughout your work day.
Who are you?
Don’t be afraid to show who you are. When you are authentic in your presentation, others are more willing to follow what you have to say.
If you’ve decided that who you are is a jacket and trousers type of person, then it’s OK to wear that to work everyday. But it’ll be easier to connect with your colleagues if you’re wearing something that is comfortable or reflective of your personality, given that you’re still within the dress code.
With this said, it’s not a pass to drop your professionalism once you sit down to happy hour or at the company retreat. Take pride in how you communicate on and offline. Determine your “offline brand” and make sure that your social media presence reflects that and nothing more. The version that you present yourself anywhere has an impact on how others view you, without a regard for whether the interactions are on or offline.
OK Now, Be You
With interactions, a little personality goes a long way - especially if you’re in a position of authority. Building influence requires others to believe what you have to say. This might mean that you have to step out of your comfort zone if you are used to isolating your work conversations with personal details about yourself. You don’t need to share what you did every night over the weekend, but it doesn’t hurt to have personal exchanges with your coworkers. If you have a good sense of humor, it will do wonders if you take the opportunity to crack a little SFW joke at the end of an email. If you’re not, don’t force it. What you are doing is showing that you care and naturally parts of yourself will be revealed to them.
Actions are more important in calculating your worth. Don’t expect to gain influence with your colleagues unless you are able to follow your arguments through with actions. Show others you are serious by following through or volunteering to be responsible for a fair share of the work.
Don’t just say you’re going to do something. Actually get involved and do it well. Working hard consistently at chunks of work that are manageable will yield better results than spreading yourself thin. Be consistent in your actions and efforts. Proving yourself as dependable and consistent are building blocks to your personal mojo. Show, don’t just tell.
Influence is not about always being correct. It is not always about having it your way. Influence is respect earned from making and vocalizing wise decisions. It’s not really making a decision if every single thought originated within yourself without consultation from others.
Listen to others. If they’re not saying anything, encourage them to speak up. The more you listen to others and are willing to incorporate their ideas into your common goals, the more natural it will be for them to return the favor and listen to your ideas. You can’t become influential unless others listen to what you have to say. It’s a two way street.
For many, the workplace is a home away from home. Everyone, not just you, spends a lot of time there. Make it a point to be friendly and upbeat. Acknowledge the efforts others put into their work. Become known as the person who has a positive outlook and a calm demeanor.
People often confuse the different approaches to getting noticed. We mistake the need to be aggressive to have our voices heard with being assertive. Being assertive means that you bring a degree of confidence to your ideas and voice. This shouldn’t be too hard if you’re practicing that positive outlook and calm demeanor we just talked about! But an overdose of confident leads others to see arrogance, which is perceived as closer to stubbornness than authority.
Treat everyone with the same tone and generous attitude regardless of rank or conversation format. If you can’t say something nicely in person, on the phone, in email or in chat uniformly, then maybe you should revisit saying it at all. Being assertive, by controlling it with kindness, is a sure way to gain the respect you need to acquire influence and authority.
Not everyone has a large store of personal mojo at their discretion. Building it up takes lots of patience, self-awareness and continual refinement. But once you start gaining traction, it is a tremendous asset to have in the professional world.