6 Tips on How to be Humble at Work

By Robert Half March 23, 2015 at 9:00am

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. Now, do you know how to be humble?

When it’s your turn in the spotlight at work, 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 using your active listening skills so you know 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 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 mistakes at work. 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.

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