À l’échelle humaine: March 1, 2017
Stand out at Work: Delivering the Message
Our last column was on the subject of taking initiative at work, breaking down the when, where, why, and how to go the extra mile on the job. It discussed how to avoid the potentially negative associations you might incite – such as coming across as arrogant.
Today we’re taking positive decorum a step further by exercising and improving your interpersonal skills. This is achieved by considering both your verbal and non-verbal communication styles. It is your responsibility to ensure that your actions are delivered with both tact and assertion, so that you shed the best possible light on your sound ideas.
Some tips to keep in mind:
You are at work – perhaps in a meeting – and as luck would have it a window of opportunity to show initiative presents itself: you see a faster, more efficient way of executing a project. How you make your point is just as important as your recommendation itself. Your first instinct may be to start by saying, “What about if we…” or a similarly broad statement.
Instead, own your idea. Try using statements such as “I feel” or “I think” to place yourself at the core of your suggestion. Demonstrate to your colleagues that you are someone with self-confidence, someone who understands the project, and someone who sees the bigger picture.
Be mindful of your tone of voice. Although you want to position yourself as strong, you don’t want to scare off others by appearing aggressive. The goal is to share your idea without stepping out of line. Speak slowly, clearly, and concisely. A sense of calm often finds a warm welcome and may mitigate the damage of challenging someone else’s ideas.
If you want to position yourself as a competent colleague, try to look the part. Assertive people don’t slouch or hunch their shoulders. This tip isn’t just for when you’re addressing individuals or groups. Good posture shows active listening and interest in the topic at hand. It’s a good habit to keep throughout the workday, especially in meetings.
4. Be Open to Compromise
Showing initiative can often be met with resistance, and the last thing you want to do is develop a reputation as someone who is unwilling to accept feedback or listen to the word, “No.” When you’re met with resistance, take a moment to consider your next statement in order to avoid knee-jerk reactions. If you response isn’t well received, it may be best not to argue your case right on the spot. Allow other people to weigh in and the meeting or conversation to continue. At the end or in a one-on-one, respectfully ask for constructive feedback about your idea. It’s often the case that a suggestion isn’t bad, but simply out of scope for time or budget.
Finally, compromise when you can. It shows that you are a team player and collaborator. And in those rare times when you can’t find a compromise, your reasoning will carry more weight.
Added to our previous articles on demonstrating initiative and adapting your communication style, the use of tact and assertiveness will help successfully develop your professional career.
Stay tuned for our next article where we highlight one final soft skill in this series.