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Hard to Admit It, But....
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Hate to admit it, but…Mother was right.

Yes, they may respect you at work and even admire your abilities and accomplishments. But…if you want to get promoted, you have to make nice, be liked and above all don’t disrespect anybody. This is the conclusion I’ve come to after 45 years of participating in the workplace and ignoring my mother's advice. If your supervisor likes you, you have it made, even if your job performance is less than stellar and you have to be an overachiever and a workaholic just to keep up.

My mother, of all people, she of the independent New England Yankee spirit, is the one who told me that you can make yourself liked and that popularity is the path to promotion. Not that she herself took that path, either, rebellious old soul that she was.

Well, I'm here to tell you, making nice works, not only for promotions but also for a pleasant work environment. People (yes, your supervisors are people) want you to be friendly. They want to know if your goals and values relate to their own. Your ability to empathize with them is critical. And they want to be assured that you are authentic, not a phony.

You, for your part, have just put your laser vision on that final criterion and said, “If I’m not going to be inauthentic, how can I do the other things?” But, young grasshopper, consider. Are you a friendly person? Are other people worthy of your courtesy? Then show it! That was easy, wasn’t it?

Next is harder. Do you share common interests? Ask and listen. Whenever you hear/see something you have in common, that is a basis for further conversation and common cause. Is there a consonance between your values and theirs in any arena? There are always some values you share with anybody—-care for children, hope for a better world, interest in sunny days versus snowy ones. Find those common values and articulate them. Validate those mutual beliefs; validate them as valuable people. Whew! We got past that one.

Can you empathize with their woes? Try it. Even the most vicious person has vicissitudes in their life. “I’m so sorry your husband passed. Please accept my condolences.” And mean it. No matter how mean and vindictive, everyone has feelings and hurts. Empathy is easy when you’ve been hurt, too. Learn about their past history and what made them the way they are. Then it’s not so hard to have compassion. The first three are done; on to the fourth and last.

They must know that you are authentic and honest. Be real. Just don't verbalize about everything. If their old time religion offends thee, keep it to yourself. If her perfume makes you gag, buy industrial strength air purifying drops. Be true to your own values; if you talk the talk, walk the walk.

And smile, nod pleasantly, make eye contact and say hello. Everyone, even the greatest curmudgeon, responds to positive affect (though it may be a point of pride not to show it).

Who knows where you'll be in 20 years?

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