4 Work Habits of Highly Secure People

Have you ever felt insecure during a job search, and “forgotten” to tell a friend about an open position they’d be perfect for?

You were probably operating in a mindset of scarcity, thinking that there’s not enough prosperity or happiness to go around. Highly secure people, however, operate in a surplus mindset, even when they are looking for a new job, a promotion, or a corner office. By pooling resources with colleagues and paying more attention to a long-term network than a single position, highly secure people ensure their and their friends’ long-term stability and happiness.

1. They sincerely compliment others.

Compliments, unlike flattery, are meant from the heart. Secure people build their teammates, employees, and superiors up by giving them positive feedback and work-appropriate personal compliments. Even when doling out personal compliments, however, keep it professional—not about their bodies or anything else too personal—to be extra safe, focus on personality traits! E.g., “You always get reports in right on time. I can’t tell you how much easier that makes my life! Thanks for helping this team work like a machine,” or, “What a lovely jacket! My wife has been looking for something like that, may I ask where you picked it up?”

Remember: a costless one-line email to a co-worker could endear you to them forever, which comes in handy when you need them to do you a favor down the line!

2. They share industry tips.

Highly secure people know how to do favors that cost them nothing. This includes passing along tips to people if you see something that’s not in your industry but is relevant to theirs, whether it’s a job posting or an especially useful article. You’d be surprised what people remember!

But what if it’s a tip regarding a job I’m applying for, too?

It depends. Is it publicly available information? If so, send it along! You’ll get credit for sending it, AND they would probably have found it anyway. There’s an extra advantage to this, too: you’ll give the impression of being so qualified that you can afford to give away opportunities, because you’re so obviously going to get one.

If it’s not publicly available, though—like an internal job listing, or a job you’ve been asked to apply for by an internal contact—you don’t have to pass it along, especially if you’re the better fit.

    • If you’re a terrible fit, though, and your friend is an excellent fit—why not pass it along? Your mismatch would be evident in either the interview or the first six months of the job, anyway, and it’s better to have a happy, successful contact than be miserable at work—or to let the position go to a stranger.

3. They share information.

Assuming it’s not confidential, secure people share information that can benefit their friends. Whether it’s through mentoring, making introductions or giving an opinion, secure people understand that networks are more important than tidbits. By giving away information, secure people build trust with their friends and colleagues. For example:

  • In law school, I once met a guy who was profoundly socially awkward. He shared his outline with me before our final exam, and in spite of a couple uncomfortable conversations, I’ll always remember him as a decent guy.
  • Another classmate of mine refused to share her notes with a friend of mine, saying he’d been irresponsible to miss that many classes. As someone outside the situation, I still heard about it, and I think of her as a stingy, uptight, judgmental person that I wouldn’t want to work with. Shouldn’t the point of law school be learning, anyway? But that’s a whole other post…

4. They give credit where credit is due.

Weak people claim credit for other people’s work, and wind up alienating both the people they stole from and anyone who finds out. People don’t like thieves, and they especially don’t like being treated unfairly.

Giving credit where credit is due also has social justice implications—because of unhealthy workplace cultures, women are more rarely recognized for their efforts, ideas and contributions. By giving credit to women on your team for coming up with ideas, you come off as secure and can even position yourself as an ally. If women perceive you as an ally in a hostile environment, you may be trusted with information, contacts or other benefits. Even if they don’t, though, being able to support a diverse team has become essential in the modern workforce.

Remember, even if you don’t feel secure right now, acting in the above ways will help others perceive you as a successful, generous and confident professional. That’s someone people want to work with!

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