Six Ways to Make Your Employees and Peers Like You. Carnegie and DevOps

Be someone who your colleagues want to spend time with.

Fernando Villalba
Oct 13, 2018 · 6 min read

This follows a series of articles on applying Carnegie’s principles to DevOps

  1. Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
  2. Six Ways to Make People Like You.
  3. Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking.
  4. Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1) Become genuinely interested in other people

Your colleagues and employees are much more likely to do a good job for you if are genuinely concerned about them and care about who they are and what they like. This sometimes can be a challenge, you can be in a room with five other people who are not interesting to you at all and you don’t feel motivated enough to talk to them, and if you are the boss, you may feel that distancing yourself is a better strategy to be professional and get work done.

This is not about knowing all your colleagues intimate life details, but about trying to understand them, what they are passionate about, what are their hobbies, what they like and what are the things that make them happy. Even if nothing else, the mere act of listening to them and empathising with their situation will make them substantially more receptive to you and will be more likely to reciprocate in the future when you need something from them.

2) Smile

No need to always be serious and miserable at the office, this doesn’t mean you have to go around giggling like a school girl with a crush, but you should at least try and lighten up and give a smile here and there to your colleagues.

Smiles should ideally be genuine, not forced or fake, in my opinion that’s even worse than no smile at all as people can generally tell. Smiling shows people you are glad to see them, and it also gives the indication you are approachable and is okay to talk to you.

It also indicates to people you are not a threat, so if you can manage, feel inclined to smile more!

3) Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language

It is easy to work in a company and not remember anyone’s name, especially if that company is large or has poor communication structures. Try and make an effort and remember the names of the people you work with, when people remember your name and they address you with it, it makes you feel better and more important than someone saying something like “hey you! Tall dude who codes in the corner, come here!”

A name can mean to that person his entire identity, and people will go to great lengths to boost it and protect it. This is not about saying their name on every sentence (that can come across as stupid), but using their name effectively, especially when it is followed by praise or kind words.

Also bear in mind when and how you use someone’s name. I used to date this girl who would always say my name right before having a go at me, so whenever I heard my name, I knew a lecture was coming; that didn’t make my name sound more beautiful, it became a symbol of pain in that relationship.

Teachers and parents can also do this, use someone’s name right before admonishing. Try and associate people’s names with positive feelings and praise, this usually will enhance the way the view themselves and are more likely to warm up to you.

4) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves

This goes hand in hand with point number one. Rather than boast about your own life constantly and never listen to what anyone has to say, try and be more receptive to others thoughts and opinions and they will in kind reciprocate to what you have to say.

This is something I used to struggle with, not because I didn’t listen, but because sometimes when I used to talk to someone who didn’t convey their ideas with clarity and with enough self-confidence I used to inadvertently overlap them. Listening to others is a big challenge, because it doesn’t mean you need to just sit there and not say anything with a blank expression. That’s not listening at all, in fact that’s as bad or even worse than just talking in my opinion.

When you listen to others try and see things their point of view and feed back to them what they just said, so after every point they are making you can feed it back to them the way you understood it and ask them to clarify if you got it right.

There is also a technique called mirroring that’s quite effective in getting people to like you more. When you mirror someone you just don’t repeat everything they say like a parrot, what you do is first of all try and mimic their body language in a non obvious way, then try and repeat back to them what they just said to you matching the emotion in which it was said.

So if they say to you:

“I woke up this morning and my heater wasn’t working, so I had to take a shower downstairs.”

You can reply by saying:

“Freezing cold, rush to work and no shower downstairs — quite the morning you had!”

Some books recommend you do this more verbosely, but personally I feel if you do that, it may come across as patronising or stupid, so I rather do it more subtly as shown above.

Matching the emotion can be quite powerful as well. If someone is angry about something or really annoyed when they are telling you a story about something that happened to them, rather than give advice or tell them to calm down, match their emotion.

I remember sometimes I used to complain about transport in London and I would get very annoyed when people gave me ideas about how to improve my experience, especially obvious ideas, or tried to tell me it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t want to hear this, I wanted to find a twin soul to vent my frustration.

If someone does this with you, match their frustration, outrage and emotion first and foremost, and once they become receptive because they start to see you get them, then is when you can give advice perhaps or change the tone. Usually if they see you get angry with them, their tone will change anyway, it works like magic.

5) Talk in terms of the other person’s interest

This point can be a real challenge to implement in a company, if you are hiring and managing people and you are very good at it, you will always find ways to make your staff invested in the work they have to do by finding what they are interested in.

If for example you know that one of your developers loves programming in Go, don’t put her in a squad programming in Java, no matter how exciting the project is, your developer is not likely to be super excited about this.

Always try and find an angle and see what your employees or colleagues like to do, and see how it matches with your own interests. If you can do this, then you will always have happy dealings with everyone.

6) Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.

Everyone wants to feel like they are important and they are doing important work. The worse thing you can do is to trivialise the work your employees do and never give them any recognition for it. Your employees will often expand to fill in their responsibilities and they will try and do it the best they can. Put someone in charge of their own work and give them leeway and authority in their area, and they are more likely to apply more proactive effort to convey their work with pride. Cage them and make them feel like pawns in a chess board and they are likely to do work just because they have to, and also reduce their mobility.

Praise people and make sure they understand how important they are in their job and give them authority over their domain, no matter how small it may be, make sure their voice is heard!


Trying to marry facts with opinions

Fernando Villalba

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Trying to marry facts with opinions

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