How To Be Humble at Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

March 15, 2021

A well-functioning organization depends on employees who can work together for the good of the company. Part of developing a collaborative environment means hiring team members who are both competent and humble. Humble employees can help companies innovate and expand through a willingness to learn and work with others. In this article, we discuss what being humble means, why it's important to be humble in the workplace and how to be humble at work.

What does being humble mean?

Being humble means you don't consider yourself better than other people. It's an absence of arrogance. Being humble means that you have the perspective to see that you are as valuable as others, that you make mistakes and that the needs of others are as important as your own.

Why is being humble at work important?

Being humble at work is important because it can help you become a better teammate with your coworkers. Humility at work can help you in the workplace the following areas:

  • Collaboration: Humble employees can be more open to working with other people, valuing the insights and contributions of others. Rather than viewing your coworkers as competitors, you see them as a part of your team, working towards a common goal.

  • Support: Being humble at work can help you support and celebrate the victories of your peers, rather than resent them. You can recognize when your coworkers deserve praise, and you are happy to provide it for a job well done.

  • Relationships: When you're humble at work, it can be easier to build genuine relationships with your colleagues, improving workplace morale.

  • Reputation: Being humble at work can enhance your reputation as a person with integrity.

Read more: How To Increase Collaboration in the Workplace

How to be humble at work

Here are the steps to becoming a more humble employee:

1. Recognize the areas you can improve in

Part of being humble is recognizing your weaknesses and areas that need improvement. At work, you might spend more time developing these skills or qualities or look for opportunities outside of the office that can help improve your performance. For example, you may have trouble giving presentations. You could join a public speaking group or take a class at a local community college to practice your speaking skills.

2. Accept constructive criticism

Once you accept that there are areas you need to develop, consider asking your colleagues or manager for feedback about your performance. Remember that their advice is not personal and is beneficial for your professional development. Your managers will appreciate your openness to constructive criticism and motivation to grow.

Read more: Steps to Handle Criticism at Work

3. Be open to learning new things

Being humble means that you realize there may be better ways of doing things. You're always looking for ways to integrate more efficient or cost-effective processes rather than holding on to outdated systems. This shows that you put the company's success above your pride.

4. Own your mistakes

If you make a mistake at work, admit it, and take the necessary steps to correct the issue. This shows your peers that you recognize your failings and are willing to work to make up for them. Owning your mistakes helps develop honesty and integrity in the workplace.

For example, here is a way you might acknowledge a mistake at work:

Carlos,

In reviewing the numbers for the first quarter, I realized my calculations were incorrect in the report I sent to you. I apologize for the oversight and have taken steps to rectify the situation. I have uploaded a revised report in the system with a brief explanation of the issue, and I emailed Susan to let her know that it was my error.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help resolve this matter.

5. Seek advice from more experienced coworkers

Being humble means knowing you always have room to grow. At work, this involves recognizing the valuable insight you can gain from more experienced coworkers. You understand that knowledgeable employees benefit the whole company and make your job easier. Find ways to learn from these employees. Their wisdom can help guide your career, allowing you to avoid some of their mistakes. You can also learn what areas to focus on, helping you progress faster.

Read more: How To Ask for Feedback

6. Be confident

Being humble doesn't mean that you lack confidence. It often takes more confidence and courage to allow others to receive recognition. Just as you note your professional weaknesses, remember your strengths so that you, too, can earn the recognition that you help others receive. Stand up for yourself when necessary. Your humility should not be a justification for poor treatment from others.

Read more: Confidence vs. Arrogance: Definitions and Key Differences

7. Listen before you speak

Being humble at work means that hearing what other other think is important to you. You understand that you might not always have the best ideas, so it's important to gain perspective and information from your peers before making decisions.

8. Acknowledge those who help you

Humble people acknowledge others' contributions to their success. At work, this may mean publicly thanking the coworkers who helped you with a big project or a thoughtful card expressing your appreciation. When your peers know that you recognize those who help you, they can be more inclined to offer you advice. This can improve the quality of your work and create a friendly, supportive atmosphere in the workplace.

9. Give others independence

When you're working with others or serving in a supervisory role, it's tempting to micromanage every aspect of a project. However, this style of work can suggest that you think you can do every job better than the person assigned to it. Allow your coworkers the independence to complete their own tasks, making yourself available when needed. This shows that you have confidence in your team and their abilities.

10. Ask questions

Asking questions shows that you realize you don't have all the answers. It demonstrates an interest in learning and engagement with your peers. When discussing new ideas with your coworkers, express a genuine interest in their thoughts. Here are some responses to consider:

  • "Tell me more about how you approached that situation."

  • "I've never heard of that concept before. Can you explain it to me?"

  • "Wow, that's fascinating. Do you have more in-depth information you can share?"

  • "I think the team could benefit from this information. Do you mind sharing it at our meeting next week?"

11. Share what you know

In addition to learning from others, humble people share what they know to benefit their organization. You're not afraid of losing an edge over other people. Instead, you're excited to help everyone do their jobs well. When you share with others, you show that you care about their success, which encourages them to share with you, too.

12. Treat everyone fairly

When you're humble, you view everyone equally. Humility includes working to reduce bias and inequities in the workplace. This means you focus on fairness in your actions and stand up against inequitable policies at work. You treat everyone you work with the same, from executives to entry-level employees. Being humble means knowing that every part of your organization is valuable and deserves respect.

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