If you think it’s okay not to join into conversations around the water cooler and focus on your work instead, we’ve got news for you. In a study done by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute, all three found that 85% of job success related to getting, keeping and advancing in a job is connected to people skills, leaving only 15% to technical knowledge and skill.

So you might want to start getting chummy with your colleagues.

It seems that even though many companies want to take advantage of new technologies and build their brands via social media and so on, they also want friendly, open people who can appropriately represent their business.

“As businesses mechanise and automate to take advantage of technological advancements, they also seek to re-mobilise human resources which are more easily adaptable to this new market,” says Courtenay Carey, co-founder and Director at The School of Etiquette.

If you want to really outshine your competition in the job market, then learn to be more personable and likable, especially in diverse environments. Being arrogant or shy isn't going to help you here. Even if you're an introvert, you can still get along with your colleagues and make a great impression. Don't just take my word for it, read our introvert’s guide to working in an open plan office written by our resident introvert, Tammy February.

Also, don’t be afraid to show your employer and colleagues who you really are: “…instead of hiding behind your social media avatar and personal brand, have the courage to be your genuine self. Focus on building relationships in the real world. Listen to what people have to say and trust your instinct as that is the only way to genuinely relate, make connections, and understand people,” says Carey.

Yes, being qualified to do the job you were hired to do is very important.  You need to have the right amount of experience and technical skill to be successful professionally, but it is also very important that your social and interpersonal skills are honed to be able to set yourself apart from colleagues and competitors in your field.

“The question to ask yourself is: in a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, averaging 25.27 percent from 2000 until 2015 can you really afford not to be at the top of your business skills game?” concludes Carey.

Think about it, would you rather work with someone who was open and friendly towards you while also being good at their job? Or someone who never said a word to you and was hostile?

A smile and a quick chat with a colleague can be a lot more productive than you think.

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