Creative LeadershipCreativity

Want More Influence in Your Office? Here’s the Secrets:

I meet too many people who feel ignored and dismissed at the office.  Their co-workers have stopped asking them for advice, they’re not being invited to key meetings, and management seems to overlook them.  Some people call it an “office doormat. ”  Is that you?  Here’s some keys to keep from having your voice trampled under the office roar:

The truth is, you become an office doormat when your desire to be liked is stronger than your desire to accomplish great work. A lack of confidence is the ticket to a life of being a doormat.  Too many people think that by “sucking up” they will be liked and respected, when the truth is, just the opposite is true.

You know you’ve become an office doormat when you begin to lose influence in the office. This happens when people stop respecting your opinions, and stop asking for your advice.   Doormats generally don’t want to rock the boat, and think that keeping the peace is critically important.  But the old Biblical advice is true:  “Iron sharpens iron.”  There is a place for respectful, creative conflict – in fact, it’s often the key to breakthrough thinking.

Being “nice” doesn’t mean going along with everyone. Personal boundaries are critical in these challenging situations.  People can’t read your mind, so you need to be respectful but clear about where your boundaries lie – both professionally and personally.   Failing to draw clear boundaries results in the vast majority of conflicts at the office.

Start thinking more about your perception. What do people think of when they think of you?  Your perception is the first step toward people taking you seriously.  So first, figure that out.  Second, you won’t change their attitude until you change yours.  Real change begins with you.  Finally, start growing professionally.  The person with the best ideas wins.  Become the person who does their homework, knows the research, the company, and the client, and generates real answers.

Far too many people stay in a bad situation. I love the old adage: “Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated.”  If you’ve changed your attitude, developed your personal confidence, and started growing professionally – but the boss still doesn’t change, then I would start polishing up my resume.  Don’t feel stuck in your job.  Who knows?  This might be your chance to finally get from where you are to where you want to be.

It’s your job to stop enabling their bad behavior. Position yourself so you can’t be taken advantage of.  Be “too busy” to get their coffee.  Be “on a deadline” so you can’t do their work for them.  After hitting a wall a few times, they’ll get the picture.  Bottom line?  It’s up to you.

Find a mentor. Find someone who’s experienced, been there, and knows the ropes.  Offer to take them to lunch once a month or offer to assist them in a project.  Spend time with people who can give you quality advice and help you through the challenging times.

Learn to say “NO.” I’ve discovered that your “yes” has no meaning unless you’re occasionally willing to say “no.”  For chronic people pleasers, that’s a tough request, but until you start to push back, they’ll never stop leaning on you.  You are gifted, unique, and talented or you wouldn’t be there.  Now it’s time you started believing in yourself.

No matter how good you are at your job, nothing is more important than people skills. Have two people compete – one who’s an expert at doing the job, and the second, who’s less capable at the job, but brilliant with people, and I’ll bet on the 2nd person every time.  Desperation comes in all sizes and because of all reasons.  A recent divorce, tragedy, or other set-back could make you feel a sense of desperation on your job.  The problem is, people can smell desperation a mile away and too many will take advantage.  No matter what your circumstances, start believing in yourself and start investing in yourself.  The dividends will pay back handsomely.

Start building 3 important skills: People skills, people skills, and people skills.  Until you learn how to deal with people, you’ll never advance very far in your career.  Someone once said, “My career would be simple if it wasn’t for people.”  How true that is.  But if you can master the art of encouraging and motivating people, you’ll become a magnet that will draw people to you and make you invaluable in the workplace.


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  1. This is great and it ties in nicely to the team leadership post you did a little while ago. I really thought the point about perception was key. We often get stuck in this perception of ourselves that is so brilliant but rarely take the time to see what others see (rightly or wrongly) and then make the necessary changes to be the employee/boss/friend that we think we are and that we want to be. Thanks Phil.

  2. What a great post Phil! Valuable info here. I was a hair designer for many years before changing careers. I made a huge transition from that industry to acting/producing. At first I thought my years working with people on a very personal level would prove worthless until I realized that those very skills gave me an edge that some people lack. Those skills have put me in places working with people I had never imagined possible. When you love people, they know it. When you don’t, they know it. Learning to serve and work with every kind of people is definitely the most valuable thing you can learn to do.

  3. You are so right with the boundaries, Phil. People pleasers tend to put themselves in a situation that doesn’t allow for growth. I wish I had known that 15 years ago. But it’s never too late to change, and I can see how some of your points have actually helped me to grow in my career and as a person during the last few years.

  4. Looking forward to Phil speaking at the @ucbmedia conference in the Uk in September.  He speaks truth.

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