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3 Proven Ways To Succeed At Work Today

3 Proven Ways To Succeed At Work Today

When I began my career as a letter carrier, I knew that was my entryway into the federal workforce. But I also knew that IT was not my final destination. If I wanted to advance in my career, I had to do what my co-workers were not willing to do. So I volunteered for extra work assignments, helped my supervisors with their workload, and whenever I saw a void, I quickly filled it. In less than three years, I was supervising the very office that I had started out in as a letter carrier. And not only that, I had the respect and cooperation of every employee in the building because they saw my strong work ethic.

Do you want to advance in your chosen career field? If so, then take the following examples as a lesson.

1. Look for ways to add value.

In his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, author Adam Grant shows that those who give in business are the ones that get ahead. When you proactively seek out ways to add value for others, you set yourself up to receive what you want in the future.

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Venture capitalist David Hornik, profiled in Grant’s book, gives entrepreneurs a chance to present ideas to him. If he’s intrigued, he backs the deal with his own money. He also gives in other ways. He openly shares information on his blog and even responds to emails from complete strangers. That’s how I was able to interview him. Hornik believes that success comes when you routinely pay attention to the needs of other people and find a way to fulfill that need. As Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” When you strive to be of value, your success is sure to follow. Who can you add value to in your company?

Action Item: Set an alarm on your cell-phone and block out 15-20 minutes once a week to jot down new ideas you can begin implementing at your workplace that will help add value to your employer.

2. Give with no expectation to receive.

I recently subscribed to the email list of Selena Soo. She is a publicity and business coach. In a case study she sent me, she mentions that she went from $0 to $157,000 in her first year as a coach. How you might ask? She did it by giving. That was a game-changer for her. When she realized giving with no expectation of return was the way to ethically get ahead, she did just that. She shares how she helped New York Times Best-Seller Ramit Sethi. He asked her for some feedback on his new website, and instead of just saying she liked version A or B, she dissected his website with some friends and sent him a detailed report with her feedback. She didn’t have to do this, but she did. She gave him more than what he asked for and was able to stand out. When she needed his assistance in the future, he was more than happy to help.

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What can you take away from Soo’s example? At your place of employment, how can you give more? How can you do more of what is expected of you? What would you want someone to do for you? Why not do that for someone at your job, whether it’s a co-worker or your boss?

Action Item: Get into the habit of skimming a lot of publications. Bookmark articles of interest and send the articles to key people in your organization with an email saying: “FYI, thought this might interest you.”

 3. Focus on helping others succeed.

The 2015 Dream Project Symposium is the brainchild of CEO Teneshia Jackson Warner. This is not just your ordinary business conference, but a symposium for all individuals who dare to dream bigger for their lives and businesses. I had the opportunity to interview Warner, and she made one bold move that can help anyone be successful in their job.

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“One day while at a conference, I bumped into Russel Simmons,” Warner said. “I knew this was my opportunity, so I pitched myself to him and told him I wanted to volunteer to work for him in exchange for an opportunity to learn from him. He gave me his fax number, when faxes were in vogue, and for 30 days straight, I faxed him my resume.” It worked. She eventually began working for Simmons as a volunteer and gained valuable experience that led to her starting her own business.

Did you happen to catch what Warner did that helped her to succeed? She volunteered. She discovered that you have to give first in order to get. One of my favorite quotes is by Zig Ziglar, which says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” When you help others succeed by volunteering to help them, you will be remembered by them. After Warner helped Simmons for free, wouldn’t you know that he became her very first client? How can this help you in your career? Who could you help? What could you volunteer to do?

Action Item: Identify who you can help in your job. Research what they need help with. Make a list of how you can add value. Do it. Rinse and repeat. Remember, it can be as simple as forwarding an article that interests them, saying thank you, or congratulating them on a job well done.

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Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com

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meiko patton

Founder - Never Ever Give Up

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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