Standing out–and for the right reasons–can be especially difficult in the modern day, competitive workplace. Navigating a new and changing political climate, playing the corporate game, and simultaneously trying to fit in and stand out can be downright exhausting.
Whether you are fresh out of college, searching for internships or just trying to find balance in your professional life, there are a few things you can do to reach that positive attention you’ve been seeking.
Use these tips to stand out from your co-workers:
1. Have a positive attitude.
Seems simple, but it’s something people will pick up on right away if you don’t have it. Even if you are having a tough time in your personal life, try to push it aside and radiate positivity at work.
Smile at others when you pass them in the hall, say hello, stop for a chat a few times a week, and encourage your co-workers to do their best. Happy people are the best people to be around.
2. Don’t join in on office gossip.
When you gossip, especially about people you work with, you are putting up walls and forming unreliable alliances. Even if you and chatty Cathy at the water cooler share the same opinion about your supervisor, don’t put it past her to not throw you under the bus to get herself ahead.
Keep your negative opinions to yourself and avoid giving others the ammunition to set you back. If gossiping is hard to avoid, make it clear you don’t want to talk about others and promptly change the subject.
3. Learn to ask for help.
If you have questions, ask them. Even though we sometimes get lucky, assuming something wrong about a project or a protocol could have ramifications that extend beyond you and your immediate team.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it shows you care more about the outcome of the situation than the embarrassment of being wrong–a valuable trait in any employee.
4. Know your limits.
Realistically, if you know you can’t handle leading a project, assisting on two others, running errands for your boss, pet-sitting for your neighbor, still managing to answer all of your emails and be in a good mood — don’t do it.
We’ve all piled too much on our plates before, but it does us no good to pretend that we can manage it all when we really can’t.
Pick the things that will help you learn new skills or advance in your career. And don’t be afraid to say, “No, thank you,” if someone offers a new opportunity or asks for your help. Quality over quantity, my friends.
5. Challenge yourself.
Craving extra experience? Go for it. If you think you will be able to supervise a project, ask for the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to push a little harder or pile a little more on your plate once you are feeling comfortable.
Think of it this way: when you are lifting weights, you want to get stronger. In order to do that, you must push yourself harder and lift heavier than you ever have before.
When you want to increase your threshold in your professional life, you need to take on extra assignments to know what you are capable of.
6. Be aware of your time and keep an eye on the clock.
Most of us are terrible at estimating how long it will take to do things.
A rule of thumb I discovered in college is you should double the time you think it will take you to do something and, even then, add in extra time as a buffer.
7. Don’t try to do too much at once.
Many people think multitasking is a good thing, but in reality you simply can’t give your full attention to multiple things at once and expect to do them well.
When checking things such as work emails, focus only on that. Develop a method that will help you do it efficiently.
For example, either answer an email now, add a task to your to-do list or leave the email unread for later if it commands more attention than you can give in the moment. You will be less likely to miss things and you can have a few minutes to relax while you get your morning latte instead of spending even more time checking your email.
We all want to stand out at work, but it needs to be for the right reasons. Stay positive, show your worth, and you’ll attract the eye of your higher-ups in no time.