T’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE
The best communicators are first and foremost keen listeners and keen observers. Speakers engage their audiences by listening to and observing audience members, then tailoring their communications to appeal and engage those members. These principles apply to the work environment as well. New employees’ first order of business will be to observe, learn, and test their communication skills, all while paying attention to the responses they receive. This is how individuals build rapport and respect.
A common mistake new graduates entering the business world make is to “over share” their knowledge. This can be off-putting to colleagues. Ultimately, the workplace is more about people than it is about information. Success comes from improving relationship-building and people skills.
The First Day of a New Job
The first day on a new job can be nerve-wracking. Common expectations are that the initial weeks and months will be a learning experience. Much like in the interview process, new employees should seek to make good impressions, listen more than they talk, be respectful, and focus on learning.
Tips for making good first impressions include:
*Dressing in alignment with others in the office.
*Being punctual, always.
*Being observant, polite, and helpful.
*Being friendly while respecting boundaries.
*Thinking things over before asking questions, then asking good questions.
*Absorbing as much learning as possible.
*Syncing online profiles (like LinkedIn) to reflect the new position.
Establishing a Rapport with Your Colleagues
Though individuals can choose their friends, they cannot choose their colleagues. Successful people find ways to develop rapport with everyone in the office, whether they like them or not. Good communication is critical. A respectful, open-minded, and nonjudgmental approach helps ensure good relationships.
Ways to develop good rapport with colleagues include:
*Initiating get-together events like lunches and celebrations.
*Showing respect for others by being punctual, honoring deadlines, offering help, and embracing diversity.
*Keeping a light attitude.
*Seeking out commonalities with others.
*Being conscious of body language.
*Focusing on others, not on oneself.
*Recognizing others’ achievements.
*Building honest relationships.
*Staying out of office politics.
Remembering and Using People’s Names
Remembering someone’s name makes a great impression, but many people have a hard time doing so. This is a weakness that must be corrected, and it can be overcome with practice. Individuals can try these methods to improve their ability to remember names when introduced:
*Listen very carefully with a focused effort to remember.
*Ask again immediately.
*Probe for more information about the name to facilitate memory.
*Create a mental picture to go with the name.
*Get the person’s business card.
Teamwork and Poor Performance
Teamwork can be difficult when personalities clash or someone is not carrying his or her weight. However, the sign of a good leader is to be able get along with everyone, set aside differences, and help the team meet objectives.
When a team is dysfunctional, a leader can get it back on track by:
*Having an open dialog to probe for the underlying reasons for the dysfunction.
*Being a positive influence.
*Making sure to listen to others respectfully, and then acting from knowledge gained.
*Being inclusive of team members who are being left out.
*Seeking out more information if there are knowledge gaps.
*Creating socializing opportunities for the team to avoid “all work and no play.”
Getting People to Say “Yes”
The ability to influence others is an ongoing leadership challenge. Some people are naturally better at it than others. However, like other leadership skills, it can be developed. The more an individual’s opinions, predictions, and actions garner positive results, the more trusted he or she becomes as an influencer. Timing, positioning, confidence, and authenticity all play a part.
Successfully influencing others requires:
*Being respectful, particularly to authority.
*Knowing one’s audience.
*Tuning in to others and then addressing their concerns.
*Doing the research.
*Providing reinforcing examples.