6 Tips on How to be Humble at Work

By Robert Half March 23, 2015 at 9:02pm

Maybe you just landed a big promotion, or you nailed a high-profile project. Or perhaps you won a coveted company or industry award. Maybe you’ve just been performing so well that you’re now the boss’s go-to employee.

Whatever the cause, it’s your turn in the spotlight at work. It’s well-deserved, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it. Just make sure you’re not enjoying it too much.

In other words, there’s a fine line between confident and cocky, and you don’t want to cross it. If your colleagues start to think you’re too big for your britches, they’ll begin to resent you, and your relationships with them will fray. Your manager probably won’t like it either if you start acting arrogant or entitled.

Here’s how to be humble, while still enjoying your success:

1. Listen more, talk less. Be careful not to dominate the conversation, especially if you’re a naturally chatty person. Let other people speak first, and make sure you’re actively listening to what they have to say. Also, make sure you consider all of your coworkers' ideas -- it'll signal to them that you value their opinion.

2. Show appreciation. You couldn't have gotten to this place without the help of your coworkers, so make sure you thank them publicly for their contributions to your successful projects. 

3. Know that you won’t always be on top. At some point, another employee will have a turn in the spotlight. Offer your sincere congratulations and appreciation for that person when it happens. Remember that you’re a part of a team, and you’re not competing against your coworkers. When one person excels, it lifts the entire group.

4. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. It happens to everyone, and trying to cover it up will only make your colleagues think less of you. Avoid making excuses or blaming someone else for your mistake. Apologize, focus on fixing the problem, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.

5. Don’t micromanage. Rising stars in the workplace are often given more power and bigger projects. If you’ve never been in a leadership role, you might feel the urge to control every aspect. After all, your stellar reputation is on the line. But micromanaging suggests you think you can do everything better than your team can. Trust others to do their jobs, and they’ll work harder for you.

6. Welcome criticism. Sure, you’re good, but you could always be better. Seeking out honest evaluations of your work is part of staying humble at work. Ask your boss where you could improve. If she mentions particular skills, talk with coworkers who shine in those areas for their advice on sharpening your capabilities.

What tips do you have on how to be humble at work? Share your advice in the comments below.

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