5 Steps to Elevate Your Social Status In A Workplace
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” - Dale Carnegie
Being a new kid on the block sucks.
You have to learn a lot, and you have to learn fast. That’s part of the game. At the same time, you should learn how to play well with others.
As with any environment, this holds true for the work setting.
Each environment has a formal hierarchy. In that hierarchy, your status depends on your job title, a level of experience, your unique skill set, etc.
Usually, it takes years of hard work for one to go through the ranks in a formal hierarchy to finally start reaping the well-deserved rewards of his effort.
I don’t know about you, but spending years of my life just to get noticed in any environment is kind of a bad deal.
Fortunately, there is also the other type of hierarchy. An informal one.
Informal type is about your social status and prestige. It’s all about how others perceive you and how well you play with them.
Having a high social status is rewarding by itself. In other words, a person with a higher social status in a company will have more opportunities, access to more resources, a better chance of a promotion or a raise.
Being unaware of the informal hierarchy and your social status within your work environment could be detrimental to your progress and overall career success.
You could be the best in the world at what you do, but if you haven’t put in the necessary effort to develop social relationships with people you share that environment, you won’t achieve nearly as much as you otherwise would.
First of all, you should acknowledge the fact that hard work alone doesn’t necessarily pay off. Being strategic with your approach to the laws of social dynamics that rule any environment combined with the skills that you already possess will allow you to get further and to get there faster.
So, if you are just starting out your new job, and you don’t have years of your life to spend proving your worthiness to your boss and colleagues, the following framework is for you.
Also, if you have been there for quite some time, but you just feel that it’s time to elevate your social status and the rewards that come with it, consider using this framework, as well.
(Disclaimer: The following steps are not a replacement for hard work and skill set that you have to possess in the first place. It’s just a supplement that will help you propel your career faster)
1. Pinpoint The Kingpin
“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”‒ Frank Lucas (portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie ‘’American Gangster’’)
The work environment is the same as any other social setting.
You have a group comprised of individuals with different characters and personalities. Regardless of the contextual field, each group has one common denominator.
Every group has a leader. A kingpin. Someone who can easily influence others around him. This person has authority over others because of the job title, years of experience in the organization, or charisma that draws people to him.
If you pay attention, you will notice that the leader always stands out from the crowd. Contrary to popular belief, a kingpin is not always the CEO of the company.
If you have a kingpin on your side, it’s easy to get everybody else from that group. It’s like in prison. You have the guy who controls everyone around. Win him over, and others will follow his lead.
How do you win him over? Gain his ‘’respect.’’
In movies, it’s always the same. Just walk up to the guy and punch him in the mug as hard as you can.
In reality, it’s different. You gain ‘’respect’’ by connecting with that person. This doesn’t mean sucking up. Whenever in doubt, always act according to your moral compass. Your integrity is the most important. With this being said, you only have to put a little effort to achieve the desired outcome for yourself.
Even though it’s not unusual for a kingpin to be a woman, I will keep referring to the kingpin as ‘’HE’’. For the sake of simplicity.
2. Gather Information
“How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” — Bill Gates
The next step is to do a research and gather as much information as you can about your kingpin.
We live in a world where every information we need is available to us within a few seconds. Feel free to use social media and get to know him.
Let’s be honest. It’s not like we never ‘’stalked’’ someone on Facebook.
Each social media platform has different sets of rules, but they all provide the same thing. Information.
Take one thing and make it your entry point. The safest thing to do is to find his hobby or passion.
If you find fitness as a recurring theme on his Facebook feed, or if his Instagram profile is full of pictures from the gym, you are on the right track.
Additionally, at this stage, you can use a colleague who knows something about your kingpin. If you have any person at your work, who can tell you more about him, use it to your advantage.
3. Ask For An Advice
“Listening is not understanding the words of the question asked, listening is understanding why the question was asked in the first place.”— Simon Sinek
Before engaging in a conversation, make sure to create a situation where you are in control.
It can be an elevator ride, a cigarette break or walking in between meetings.
Aim for a 1–1 conversation. You can have much more control of the situation when fewer people are present.
By now, you should have your entry point, and you have his attention. Now, you have a reason to talk to him. Having this in the back of your head will help you steer the conversation in the desired direction.
The way how you start a conversation is not as important as the outcome. Your only goal for this seemingly small talk should be for him to speak and for you to acknowledge.
Tell him that you heard that he is into fitness and you need advice on choosing the gym or a workout to get started.
The universal law of human interaction states that people love to talk about their passion. You just have to listen.
4. Do a follow-up
“We like people who are similar to us. This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle.” ― Robert B. Cialdini
Follow up means fortifying the entry point.
Unlike the last time where you asked for advice, now you are returning the favor by sharing the knowledge you recently acquired.
In other words, if you had an excuse to strike a conversation the last time, now you have a solid reason to do so.
If the entry point was fitness and training advice, tell him that you loved the training he recommended and that you found out an excellent nutrition regimen that can be combined with it for maximum results.
The purpose of the follow up is to make the other person at ease when having an interaction with you. Having a chat with you becomes normal and usual for him.
Not long after, you can start injecting different topics into the conversational mix. Considering that you have done prior research on the kingpin, you shouldn’t have a problem coming up with a new topic for a conversation.
Aim for short but more frequent interactions. Inevitably, other people will notice. Especially people from his social circle. If they see that he likes you, they will have no choice but to do the same. Once this happens, go straight to the next and final step.
5. Cash In On The Leverage
“Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.” ― Robert B. Cialdini
The last phase is about leveraging on the social dynamic you established with the kingpin and using that leverage on the rest of the group.
If you haven’t already, you can start developing a healthy work relationship with them. If you are already on good terms with the kingpin, it will be a lot easier to win the rest.
At this point, you should be included in the activities of that group.
Depending on the group dynamic, it can be a grabbing a beer after work or play softball on the weekends. Whatever it is, accept the invitation.
If by any chance this doesn’t happen, you can be proactive and organize something for the group.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planed for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn`
Each environment is unique. Each group has different individuals and social dynamics within, but the universal principles of human psychology and connection remain the same.
As long as you are aware of the importance of social status, you are in control. If you are in control, you can turn the tables and get yourself into a position where your hard work and dedication to the job will be noticed and rewarded.
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