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5 social tips for getting ahead at work

You've been in your position for a few years and are looking to move up. Figuring out how to stand out from the crowd is the next step, writes Darren Fleming. 

How do you get that edge that gives you the inside running in that job interview? Promotion is not always about skill and ability – we've all worked for someone and wondered how they got the job! 

Often, it's about how we interact with others. Get this right and you're ahead of the game. The good news is that there are five tips you can use to get the inside running.

We humans are social creatures. We need to be part of a tribe because it gives us safety. So it makes sense to be good at the social side of work if you want to get ahead. 

Never miss a chance to remain quiet

As the old saying goes, the empty vessel makes the most noise. If you have nothing of value to contribute, keep quiet and let others do the talking. Listen to what they have to say and ask questions when you can. 

Draw them out so you know what they are thinking. People love to talk about themselves and if you enable this, they will love you. Then, when the opportunity is right, synthesise what they have said. Bring together several ideas from different people into one argument. 

This will give you an appearance as someone who is considered and thinks things through. This positions you as a clever person.

You can get a big reputation from a very small thing

Our reputation precedes us. If it is damaged, it can be very hard to repair. Protect it.

Aim for consistency. Act in accordance with your values. If you say one thing and do another, people won't know if they can trust you. No one likes the boss who says, "Do as I say, not as I do".

Following your values makes it easier to know what to do and when to do it. It provides an internal compass for us to follow. Keeping your word is a great way to build on your reputation. If you say you are going to do something, do it. 

This gives you the power to say no when needed. If people know you keep your word, they will know that they can trust you.

Don't believe me – just watch

The Bruno Mars song "Uptown Funk" provides the greatest way to win an argument – with actions. When we argue with words, we are trying to prove someone else wrong. Emotions such as pride, jealousy and anger swell up and cause them to push back. 

If they have insecurities about their ability, they will push back harder against you and your idea. They will try to prove you wrong. To let you win, they will have to lose face. The only clear way to show your ideas are better is through implementation. 

Have the courage of your convictions to take action where you can, and show that you know best. But never gloat about it.

Birds of a feather flock together

We assume that members of a group act as one. While we know this is not always true, if you are seen associating with the wrong people, it will change how others perceive you. If you want to climb the ranks but continually hang out with the troublemakers, you will be seen as one, and troublemakers don't get promoted. 

You may not be one, but if you lie with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas. This applies to attitudes as well. Many people have negative attitudes to life. To them the glass is always half empty and never half full. 

Attitudes are contagious. If you hang around with someone who has a poor attitude, it will rub off on you. You will then be seen as the person looking at the half empty glass. 

Appeal to self-interest

It was Paul Keating who said, "In the race of life, always back self-interest – at least you know it's trying". 

People always take action to benefit themselves – never to harm their position. So when asking for a favour or offering to help, always appeal to their self-interest. 

If you call in a favour, you will be seen as greedy and ungrateful for the assistance they gave you. If you appeal to their self-interest, you are seen to be helping them out. This will make you a friend.

Darren Fleming is a speaker, author and trainer who specialises in communication and influence.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain