2. Show gratitude
Nobody likes feeling that their efforts are taken for granted. The American Psychological Association reports that individuals who feel valued at work are happier, more productive and more appreciative of their colleagues.
Whether you’re a team leader or a teammate, the people you work with need to feel appreciated. It’s important to give credit where due and ensure you share the glory when things go well. Just as important is the basic act of saying “thank you” for even small things.
Thank your meeting attendees for showing up on time. Thank colleagues for feedback, even when it’s critical. Thank people for contributing useful points to a discussion and for presenting to the group. These small gestures, when expressed sincerely, can make a big difference in the way people feel about working with you.
If you’re a manager or team lead, it’s even more important. But be careful to only give sincere thanks and credit, and avoid superficial or overgeneralized group thank-yous. As a 2020 Harvard Business Review study highlighted, not everyone contributes the same things and the same amount. Taking the time to give thanks personally, and for specific contributions, goes a lot further than a trite “thanks for everything, everybody.”
3. Learn and use people’s names
Even if you think you’re “just bad with names,” it’s important to make a habit of learning and using people’s names correctly. As Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” It remains as true today as it was in 1936, though globalization and increased cultural diversity mean we may need to work a little harder at it today.
In the 21st-century workplace, you’re likely to collaborate with colleagues from a variety of cultures and with names that may sound complicated. It’s tempting to shorten or avoid saying names that are difficult for you to pronounce, but it’s well worth the effort to learn people’s names and get them right.
Rajat Panwar, associate professor of responsible business practices at Oregon State University, writes in Harvard Business Review, “When you refuse to make an effort to pronounce someone’s name correctly, it suggests that you’re choosing your own linguistic comfort over their identity.”
Instead, subtly confirm early on that you’re hearing and correctly pronouncing a new contact’s name. Don’t make an issue of it, but show them respect by caring enough to get it right.
Address people by name and be proactive about making introductions. It not only builds bridges, but it also helps people feel seen, included and valued.