How you express yourself at work is a fascinating and complex area. Let us look at the various scenarios and see where you fit in. Are you quiet and withdrawn? Perhaps you talk too much and rarely match actions to words? The secret is to find the right balance and be consistent. This is easily the best and most effective way of expressing what you want at work.

When I was a manager, I hated meetings. Especially those where I had to represent my section. Being naturally shy, it took me ages to overcome my unease when twenty four eyes would swivel in my direction as I started to speak. How I envied the poised, cool colleagues who would speak concisely and intelligently. How I hated the loudmouths who were simply attention grabbers and ass lickers. Luckily, I conquered my inhibitions but it did not happen overnight.

When you are too quiet at work.

If you decide to keep your head down and not voice your worries, wants, ideas and plans, there is a risk that you will never be noticed! Your work, talents and skills may lie hidden like un-mined gold. That is the great risk you are taking. If you think that by not rocking the boat your manager will appreciate it, you may be wrong. It is not easy though to communicate what you want at work.

If you neglect this area, you are missing out on establishing your own personal brand in the department. In addition, you risk being considered as lazy, uncooperative, sulky, and uncommunicative. Of course, you are not like that at all. Your colleagues and your line manager are getting the wrong vibes and that could well stand in your way when you might want promotion. You will end up being frustrated and unmotivated.

Are you too talkative?

Maybe you fall into that category where you can express lots of ideas, opinions and project ideas fluently and with great ease. If you cannot match that flood of verbal noise with actions and completed tasks, then you risk being considered a loose cannon.  Not producing the goods could be a major obstacle when looking for promotion. Your verbal output needs to be matched with action and deadlines that are met.

Are you a good listener?

“Never miss a good chance to shut up”. – Will Rogers

How prepared are you to listen to others as they state their ideas and projects? The art of being a good listener means that co- workers feel valued, their productivity increases and they are more liable to stay in the company. This is especially important when you are in a managerial or team leader role.

How do you know what others are feeling or what their perspectives are on a major issue affecting the company, if you are not listening to them? Being a good listener is the gold standard of effective workplace communication.

As we have seen, the ideal combination is to be able to give voice to your wants and needs in the workplace while at the same time being a good listener. Getting the balance right may not be easy but here are 10 guidelines to help you be an effective communicator which is the key to promotion.

Communicating at work guidelines

  1. Focus on a solution, rather than a problem. You may have worries about falling sales. Try to elaborate a possible solution to that, rather than complaining about it.
  2. Tell your manager which skills set you are aiming to sharpen or develop. Ask if there are any opportunities within your remit which would match those.
  3. Be aware of your limitations. If a difficult request is going to derail your main objectives, do not be afraid to say so and give the reasons. Accepting tasks which you cannot fulfil will mark you as a loser. It is much better to be honest.
  4. If you have an opinion about possible problem areas, do not be afraid to give your views to your team or your boss. When you are a manager, always seek out views from the team. If you disagree, try asking an open type question such as ‘Can you tell us how that strategy worked with a similar project?’ Never say that something will not work!
  5. Don’t lie when asked if there are any problems. Admit there are problems but explain clearly what is wrong. Avoid virtual communication and go for face to face interaction.
  6. Never undermine or apologize about what you think. Classic phrases such as: ‘I’m just thinking aloud here… but’ or ‘I’d like to take a few minutes of your time’ give a negative impression.
  7. Aim to be concise. Avoid torrents of words. Think about pauses and shorter sentences.
  8. Pay attention to your body language. If the space you occupy is ever smaller, then there is something wrong. Expand your space, unfold your arms and improve your posture. It does wonders for your morale and people will notice you.
  9. Avoid giving advice to colleagues when they have not asked for it. Doing this can give the impression that you know better.
  10. When you listen to an employee who has a problem, make sure that it is all about them, rather than you or the company.

Follow these suggestions to improve your communication skills at work. You will be happier, more productive and positive. You will also be a much more likeable colleague or boss.

How have you managed to voice what you want at work? Let us know in the comments below

Check out 9 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Manager for a day / FTTUB Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria via flickr.com

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