If our workplaces had yearbooks, we’d probably all like to be voted ‘Most Popular.’ Sure, ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ would top the list for the incredibly ambitious, but as we all know, it can be lonely at the top. So, if you’re not willing to keep a roster of haters, then ‘Most Popular’ it is.

But how do you become That Guy or Gal at the office? The one who everyone looks to to not only crack a joke to lighten a tough situation, but who can rally the troops for a 3-hour brainstorming session? The one who swiftly charges up the ranks to team leader and takes his/her lumps on the company softball field? The one who is both influencer and listener?

This week, we’re exploring strategies to help you earn that most coveted of superlatives. Improving your workplace relationships, however, doesn’t usually happen overnight. It takes close examination of several factors:

  • WHAT makes successful relationships
  • WHO are the influencers at your company
  • HOW did they achieve that status
  • WHAT qualities do they possess
  • HOW can you bring those qualities to the forefront of your workplace demeanor

There is one thing – ONE THING! – that nearly all workplace relationship experts agree on is a must-have, though.

COMMUNICATION

We scoured the internet to find some of the best explanations of WHY stellar communication is necessary to succeed and HOW you can implement good communication strategies into your workplace relationships. Here’s some of the best nuggets we could find:

Showcase your common courtesies. How do you present yourself when you first walk into your office? Are you smiling? Do you greet everyone? These small acts of kindness count big time when it comes to how you’re perceived in your company. Check out this video.

Courtesy: eHow Money

Don’t assume they know what you mean. We assume too much in communication. In fact, in certain industries we love our jargon, but we don’t always agree on what the jargon means! Practice coming to every interaction with the goal of learning about the other person. Ask “why?” to get at what’s underneath their comments. Don’t guess – ask.” Courtesy: Psychology Today

Be timely. “Without effective communication, numerous problems can arise in a workplace. Managers must clearly communicate the company’s vision and strategies to employees, and employees must communicate any issues or difficulties in implementing measures to achieve the business’s vision. A key to effective communication is to do it in a timely manner; if a manager needs to assign a task to an employee, she should do so as soon as possible to give the employee adequate time to achieve the task.” Courtesy: Global Post

“Avoid gossiping. Don’t gossip – office politics and “gossip” are major relationship killers at work. If you’re experiencing conflict with someone in your group, talk to them directly about the problem. Gossiping about the situation with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation, and will cause mistrust and animosity between you.” Courtesy:  Mind Tools

Examine the emotional toll of communicating. Emotions are always tied to communication, often in the way we present our message or how it is being interpreted by those receiving it. It’s important to remember the intention behind your message and that once it leaves your mouth, you don’t always have control over how the other person will take it. That being said, there are some things you can do to take ownership of your message and alleviate any misgivings about it.

  • “Use “I” statements. Powerful and influential statements are made when a person uses personal pronouns when speaking. It contributes to direct communication. Simply say what you think or feel about something. “I feel frustrated when people are late to meetings” versus “Some people may think that people who come late to meetings are passive aggressive”.
  • Describe behaviours without judgment or an evaluative statement. “You interrupted me several times during our staff meeting” versus “you are an attention-seeker and have no care for others”.
  • Describe your feelings: this is an important part of the message that often gets skipped even though the emotional content is directly colouring your message. Best to just name it so that others can understand what is going on for you.  For instance, “I felt angry when you cut me off during our staff meeting.”
  • Maintain congruence between your verbal and non-verbal messages. Saying, “I enjoyed your presentation to the board..” with your eyes rolling or a sarcastic tone, will confuse the person and most likely decrease trust which closes communication down. Your body language accounts for more than 60% of your message – verbal and physical congruence will build trust and clarify your intent.
  • For many people it will take practice to become an effective communicator. Ask for feedback around the clarity, delivery, and timing of your message. It might feel risky but each small risk will build your confidence and increase trust in those you work with.”

Courtesy: HR Council Canada

A gentle reminder. Be kind to yourself. If you have a bunch of relationships that aren’t working as well as they could … it can feel a bit daunting. Instead focus on taking it one step at a time … one conversation at a time. Each time you interact with someone, remind yourself that you want to be the best possible version of you. If you take the few seconds to do this in every interaction you have … you will set yourself up for a life-time of feeling good.” Courtesy: Make A Dent Leadership

Good communication is vital in your current position, yes, but it is also crucial when you’re seeking employment. For example, say something pops up on your background check that worries a potential employer. Is it better to become defensive right away? Or to ask questions, listen closely and then, calmly, state your situation? Obviously, the latter will leave a more positive impression on your potential employer. It shows that you can handle adversity, stay cool in a tense environment, and clearly deliver your message. In other words, even if the negative transgression is true, the fact that you’re not a hothead might work in your favor.

What are some of your top communication tips? Send us your best suggestions and we might use them in our next post about improving workplace relationships!

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