Of course you want to become the top performer at work and excel at your job. Learn how to make it happen by focusing less on yourself—and more on others.
You might think the secret to succeeding at work has everything to do with your own job performance. While you certainly won’t rise to the top without plenty of hard work, putting your head down and over-delivering will only get you so far.
Why? Because you’re not the only person who has a role to play in your own success. The people who sit in the cubes around you—whether they work with you on a day-to-day basis or not—are also key players who contribute to your own efficiency, job performance, recognition and your .
It’s rare that anyone can reach their goals without the help of others in the office. Forming stronger relationships with coworkers will not only make work more enjoyable, but contribute to significant forward strides in your success. Conversely, the inability to gain acceptance of other workers can damage your ability to execute your daily tasks.
Follow the tips below, and you won’t even have to try to go it alone.
1. Make your coworkers feel important
Everyone, regardless of title, industry or pay, has the need to feel important. Without exception, it’s part of human nature.
When we think about it, we have the same needs, but rarely do we put ourselves in an another’s shoes and determine the ways in which that person gets their feeling of significance.
Simple actions like saying hello to everyone at work, showing appreciation where appreciation is due and recognizing all opinions will help you form stronger bonds with your coworkers.
2. Speak in terms of what the other person wants
We all take actions because we want to obtain a particular goal. Regardless of how big or small, your coworkers’ actions spring from what they fundamentally desire or need to accomplish.
Figure out what the other person wants and speak in terms of the benefits they will receive from a particular action. You should see others in the office begin to act more amicably towards you.
3. Take a sincere interest in your coworkers
Often, professionals fail to see that speaking about themselves gets little to no reaction. When they begin to ask about others in the office, though, they tend to have a more receptive conversation.
If you want to form more meaningful relationships in the office, stop using the word “I.” Remember, it’s the person who isn’t interested in their fellow employees who has the most difficult career. This is regardless of natural talent.
4. Put other people before yourself
The best way to gain favor with others in the office is to put yourself out to do things for other people.
This can be as small as greeting them with enthusiasm and animation or remembering their birthday. Sometimes, it’s the small things that get others to begin to warm up to us.
The expression on your face can either welcome interaction with others or show you’re aloof to others’ need for importance.
, and a warm smile tells your colleagues you’re glad to see them. Again, it’s the small things that form lasting bonds and win others over to your way of thinking.
Professor James V. McConnell, a psychologist formerly at the University of Michigan, found that “people who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively.”
6. Ask questions and listen before speaking your piece
Most conversations around the office tend to involve little listening, as many coworkers are too engaged in what they’re going to say next.
This type of communication leads to misunderstandings, poor collaboration and often results in strained relationships around the office. What some fail to understand is that the most effective form of communication is asking questions and listening to the answers.
7. Make suggestions rather than expressing opinions
One of the most effective ways to get a coworker (or anyone in your life) to take a particular action or agree to an idea is to suggest it and let them draw their own conclusions.
Nobody likes to feel as if they’re being sold something. Rather, people are more receptive when there is an exchange of ideas. The best salespeople make a person feel like the idea was their own.
8. Don’t tell people they’re wrong
Besides smiling around the office, this is probably the easiest improvement you can make when it comes to your office relationships.
While anyone can condemn, it is the truly successful who try to understand the other person. We are animals driven by pride and vanity. We diminish a coworker’s perceived obligation to us when we scold or make fun of them.
Remember that great conversation is achieved when we show respect and consideration for others’ ideas. If you acknowledge your coworker’s viewpoint, they will return the favor.
9. When you’re wrong, admit it
When you apologize for (whether it be significant or a minor detail) and sympathize with the point of view of another employee, you disarm potential hard feelings and strengthen your relationship.
Excuses raise tempers. Apologies and sympathy calm any hard feelings.
10. If you must criticize, do so constructively
If you have to criticize, which we sometimes do, try not to do it in front of the entire office. Keep it between you and your coworker.
Another great tactic is to pay the person a compliment before you touch upon how they were wrong. For instance, “You did a great job on X account. Going forward, I would suggest that you tweak Y, and you should see more efficient selling power than you are now.”
It’s nearly impossible to achieve everything you want on your own. While it takes practice and discipline to become better with others, it will pay you back both literally and figuratively.
Ken Sundheim is the CEO of and a writer for Forbes. Among other places, Ken has appeared on MTV and Fox Business News.