If you’re like most people, you’ve put considerable time and effort into honing the skills necessary for excelling in your chosen career. However, professional expertise isn’t the only factor that matters when striving for success — getting along well with others may have just as big an impact on how quickly you climb the ladder.

Many people believe they lack the social skills necessary to smoothly navigate the typical office environment, but all that’s really required is adherence to a few simple guidelines.

The following are seven strategies designed to provide a blueprint for those wondering how to optimize their interpersonal experience as an employee. It will help you deal with colleagues in ways that enhance your chances of success.

Show Everyone Respect

This simple approach goes a long way toward establishing yourself as someone who can be trusted and relied upon. Although it can be difficult to show respect to those who don’t return it, doing so proves that you’re level-headed and function well under pressure.

It’s particularly important to treat those in lower positions with respect because a reputation as a workplace bully is tough to overcome.

Build a Good Base

Getting off to a good start with a new job builds a positive foundation for the future. First impressions are nearly impossible to shake off, so strive to present an open and friendly demeanor.

If you’re one of those who struggle with small talk, keep in mind that a warm and friendly smile speaks volumes even when you’re at a loss for something to say.

Be Kind and Positive

A positive attitude and a policy of being kind to others never hurt anyone’s career. Positivity in working environments is catching, so maintaining a good attitude will inspire others and even cause them to look to you for leadership.

However, you probably already know that there’s usually at least one person in every office who continues down the same old negative path no matter what. It’s important not to let these people drag you down.

You might find yourself tempted to say something unkind to someone in the office who’s perpetually difficult or who always puts a negative spin on things.

Keep in mind that adding to the tension will only escalate an already bad situation. Simply hearing the other person out may be all that’s necessary to bring things down to a more manageable level.

Avoid Drama

Avoiding drama in the workplace is often easier said than done, but it’s a strategy that always pays off. Drama destroys trust and relationships and serves as a significant distraction in the workplace.

The easiest way to keep drama from having a negative impact on your career is to simply refuse to engage in office gossip. You’ll build a reputation as a trustworthy team player with integrity, and your focus won’t be clouded by a tense atmosphere.

Make New People Feel Welcome

Making new employees feel welcome establishes you as a mature professional and sets the tone for future working relationships.

Inviting new people out to lunch, including them in office conversations, and making them a part of team building games are just three of the many good ways to make new employees feel included.

Remember That Everyone Has Bad Days

Always keep in mind that no one is on a perpetual even keel — everyone has the occasional bad day or even bad patch of several bad days that may result in negative attitudes and behavior.

It’s a good idea to remind yourself that you have no way of knowing what another person is going through when you encounter unpleasant interpersonal situations.

Keep in mind that management will view your interactions with others in the workplace as an indication of how you handle clients and business contacts. It will tell them how proficient you are at smoothing over the issues when tense situations arise.

Apologize

Never fall into the trap of believing that issuing an apology makes you appear weak. Knowing when and how to apologize is an essential component of successfully navigating choppy workplace waters.

It simply isn’t possible that anyone is going to be right all of the time, so be prepared to offer a brief but sincere apology when you’re in the wrong.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it’s of the utmost importance for you to treat others the way you want to be treated, maintain a positive attitude, and refrain from engaging in workplace gossip. In this way, you present yourself as a trustworthy employee who can be relied on to create a productive work environment.

Once you firmly establish this reputation, you’ll be considered to have significant leadership potential. As a result, you’ll experience greater advancement possibilities than your counterparts who failed to follow the guidelines listed above.