12 Things You Should Say At Work To Become More Likeable


Camaraderie is an important component of what keeps us going back to work. As humans, we have an innate need for social acceptance. The bulk of our days is spent in a social setting: the workplace! There is a strong need for us to like the people we work with (and for the people we work with to like us!)

How can you increase this likeability factor? Here are 12 simple phrases to use that will up the ante for you.

1. “Hi or Hello”

Before you roll your eyes at the simplest of phrases, hear me out. In my 15 years of professional life, a simple “Hi” has proven to be the most powerful. How? When you see someone, even someone you don’t know, acknowledge their presence with a Hi. This simple act of acknowledging another person’s presence is extremely powerful. I’ve seen people who avert their eyes or look down when they do not know you. It definitely appears rude on the receiving end. Every time you pass someone in the hallway, or in the break room, rest room, elevator, parking deck… irrespective of the place, acknowledge them with a Hi or Hello or Good morning.

2. “Thank you”

Another simple but powerful phrase is a Thank You. No, a cursory thanking will not cut it. The Thank You has to be heartfelt. Even simple gestures like someone holding the elevator door or handing your mail, warrants a heartfelt thank you. People feel happy to be of help to others. By thanking them, you make them feel like they’ve been of service. This instantly makes them like you.

3. “How are you?”

3 simple words that convey the message that you care. At times it may be a conversation starter. At other times it may be an outlet for someone. I remember a few years ago, when I asked this simple question to a co-worker, the flood gates opened. She was going through a personal situation and did not have anyone to share it with. She viewed the “How are you” as an invitation to share and was able to open up. Sharing what she was going through gave her a huge relief. Giving that opportunity is a sure-fire way to get someone to like you more.

4. “I understand”

In the incident with my co-worker, all I did was to listen and say “I understand”. That’s all you need to do at times to help someone feel heard. Its not uncommon for people to feel frustrated as they come out of a meeting. They may feel like no one gets them or what they are trying to say or do. As they vent to you, acknowledge their thoughts and actions with an “I understand”. On the receiving end, your co-worker will feel a sense of relief to know someone else gets them.

5. “How can I help?”

Asking someone how you can help lets people know that they are not alone, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to carrying someone else’s load. Still, asking opens the path to conversation. At times, all they may need is a listening ear. Talking about what is needed and being willing to help in any small way is impactful. I’ve come across people who are afraid to ask this question in case they are unable to deliver on the help that is asked of them; hence, they shy away from this question. Showing someone that you are willing to do something for them is a likeability booster.

5. “I believe in you”

This one is huge! People need someone to believe in them. Instead of masking that belief in actions that may or may not come across, just say it. As an example, a supervisor hands a piece of work and adds the words “I believe you can do this.” The fact that their supervisor trusts them with that piece of work is an ego boost for the individual. And will motivate them to do a good job and not let down their boss. I’ve personally done above and beyond when my boss has expressed her belief in my capabilities or trusted me with stretch assignments. And yes, I definitely liked my boss more after that!

7. “What I hear you saying is:”

Repeating what you just heard proves that you were paying attention. In this age of short attention spans, give someone your full attention and repeat the information back to them to confirm it. More likeable for sure.

8. “Well Done”

I don’t understand why people find it difficult to say “Job Well done”. We dole insane amounts of “good job” to kids, but find it difficult to do it to adults. Personal rants aside, acknowledging someone for their effort is encouraging and motivating. We don’t have to give out plaques or other forms or rewards at all times.  Saying “Job Well Done” at an opportune time in front of the team is equal to or better than a plaque on the wall that no one sees. In turn, it causes people to like you more as you see their effort and their work.

9. “What do you think?”

A powerful way to show respect. Encourage others to share what they think and express their opinions. It causes them to feel included, feel respected and that their opinion matters. The people I like the most at work are the inclusive ones, the ones who show that they care enough about others to include them.

10. “Absolutely”

When you are given work, there are three ways to react to it. Not saying anything and doing it; not saying anything to the person but griping about it to others; and the third way is to respond with “Absolutely!”. Showing enthusiasm when asked to do something, causes an instant delight. And boosts your likeability index.

11. “Great Question”

A common problem at workplaces is people hesitating to ask questions. They are afraid of getting shot down, laughed at or ignored. When someone is brave enough to ask a question, respect and acknowledge that with a “Great Question” comment. This will ease the nerves of the person asking the question and encourage them to clarify their doubts. In a large setting, it encourages others to open up as well. When you put someone at ease, it naturally causes them to like you.

12. “Tell me more”

A definite way of showing interest! Sometimes, it may be difficult to give someone the time you need at work to listen. When you sense a time consuming conversation, don’t cut off the person and walk away. Let them know that you are short on time, but you want to hear more. Tell them that you will reach out soon to find out more. And keep up the promise! Follow up with the person and find out more. Giving people your time and expressing interests again aids in increasing likeability.

What are some other common phrases that others have said to that make you like them?