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Likeable or skilled in order to get promoted

Does this sound familiar to you?

Work scenario: Likeable people are moving up in my company because they’re likeable and not because of their skills. I have the right skills to get the job. done, but I’m not getting promoted. What do I do in order to get a promotion?


If you’ve ever been in a workplace situation that you’ve deemed to be tremendously frustrating, it may have evolved around something like the scenario stated above. You’re a dedicated worker. You rarely miss a day, your work is always completed on time and without errors, you’re a good mentor to others, and you don’t hesitate to put in extra hours. You may not fall into the category of “likeable”, but you are indeed an ideal employee.


So why is it that every time a possible promotion comes along, the job goes to someone else who you believe is not as qualified as you but someone you perceive as perhaps being a person that others quite simply prefer to be around?


This is not an unusual experience, agrees life coach Andreea Munteanu, who has degrees in both psychology and human resources, which makes her especially qualified for coaching individuals with work-related issues.


However, Andreea views this work scenario a bit differently than a non-coach might. She doesn’t so much see “likeability” as a necessary trait for advancement; rather, she looks at this situation as an opportunity to help someone develop social skills that will perhaps make them be perceived as more likeable. Hence, she’s addressing more than simply a likeability issue but, instead, offers a client who approaches her with this problem an opportunity to hone many different skills.


So, what are the traits that makes one more likeable? Andreea maintains that there are several “soft skills” that fall under this umbrella.


Positive attitude is number one, she offers. No one wants to be around a negative person, especially at the workplace. Positivity inspires people, encourages them, gives them hope, Andreea explains.


Being authentic is also essential. It’s easy to feel when someone is being “fake”, she notes. You see it in their face, their inflections, their tone of voice. Working on being natural and comfortable with others goes a long way in verifying your authenticity, Andreea adds.


Being an active listener is one of the most wanted skills in this busy world where people don’t have time anymore for listening, and she stresses that people should practice listening with an “empty mind”. That means you’re not constantly thinking about the next think you’re going to say while you’re listening to a co-worker or superior talk. Instead, listening with an empty mind allows you to truly process all that you’re hearing and then respond intelligently and reflectively.


Assertive communication comes along. More than being a fashionable factor, this means to have the ability to express both positive and negative opinions in an active way that shows respect for the other people’s  opinions or rights. This implies to take  responsibility for your own facts without blaming or judging others, without being aggressive or avoidant.  


Another important soft skill for those seeking a higher likeability factor is recognizing emotions in others and the willingness to have empathy for that other person’s emotions. It’s also okay to be a little vulnerable yourself and show your own emotions, not in an aggressive way but in a way that keeps open a positive line of communications between you and your co-workers.


Developing the skills above will allow others to perceive you as likeable, Andreea reiterates, simply because you’ve developed what it takes to have positive interactions with others. These are skills that companies are viewing as more and more essential in the workplace, often placing training in these skills above training in “hard” skills like marketing, advertising, etc. Indeed, employers are spending more dollars each year for coaching like that which is provided by professionals like Andreea, both one-on-one and in a group corporate setting.


It’s money well-spent. For most people, achieving likeability is do-able, explains Andreea, and her job is to help the client discover and hone their soft skills by, first, self-evaluation and then through a series of steps that involve goal-setting and facilitating one’s own options for learning.

Mostly, however, the learner needs to be personally committed to that which he wishes to achieve.


“I help [the client] realize what strength he has inside him already and show him how those current strengths will help him accomplish his goals,” Andreea emphasizes. “That’s the role of a coach.”

Interview for Savvy

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