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How to Become More of A People Person at Work

How to Become More of A People Person at Work

Interpersonal skills are critical in any workplace environment, and effective communication is important both on the personal and corporate levels. However, if you’re not naturally an outgoing people person, building relationships with colleagues can be difficult. Simply going into the break room to heat up your lunch can stress you out.

Luckily, as an article in Fast Company pointed out, there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extrovert. We all have the ability to adapt to the situation and learn the communication skills we need to succeed. And while it can be scary to step outside of your comfort zone, the relationships you have with your co-workers can improve your productivity and satisfaction in your current job, as well as become an important part of your professional network for the future.

If interpersonal skills are not your forte, check these 5 tips to strengthen them at the office.

1. Work for an organization that you believe in and are confident about.

One of the hardest parts about interacting with people is finding common ground that makes it easier for you to connect. If you work for a company that you truly believe in, that’s a great starting point from which to build a relationship with co-workers. Knowing that you share an interest in the work you’re doing with those around you will make it easier to communicate with them.

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Most people automatically become more open and talkative when they’re discussing something they’re passionate about, and that enthusiasm is often contagious. Not only is it personally rewarding to share what you love, but this will also make you seem like more of a positive, upbeat individual. And your co-workers will enjoy your company more because of that.

If you feel your work isn’t something you’d feel excited telling someone else about, consider altering your career path. Useful tools like career exploration apps can help you figure out whether or not you’re in the right field, as well as learn about all the options available to you.

2. Keep your home and work lives separate.

There are few things more awkward or depressing than when a co-worker insists on bringing their home troubles into the office. There’s a thin line between telling your work friends about what you did over the weekend and the laundry list of things that are stressing you out.

Don’t make those around you uncomfortable by oversharing your personal life at work. While those types of conversations might feel cathartic to you, they can be distracting for everyone else. Additionally, they may cause others to avoid interacting with you out of fear of awkward situations. Leaving your home life behind when you go to the office will help you focus on work and be a more approachable colleague.

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3. Have balanced conversations.

There’s nothing worse than being cornered by a co-worker and having them go on and on about their idea without leaving you room to get a word in edgewise. Don’t be that person. Remember, a conversation is a two-way street. Communication isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening.

Whether you’re interacting with a co-worker one-on-one or in a group, do your part to ensure everyone’s ideas are being heard. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to bring others into the conversation by saying “I’d like to hear what you have to say about this,” in order to get quieter people involved. This will help improve productivity and efficiency when brainstorming.

Also remember that this is important for more casual conversations as well. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Even if you have seen every episode of Game of Thrones, read all the books, and investigated every fan theory, other people deserve to speak up about the topic. Take a step back every now and again, and let others talk about their interests or opinions.

4. Set socializing goals for yourself.

For people who aren’t naturally outgoing, it can seem daunting to put yourself out there. However, if this a professional goal of yours, you need to make it a priority to mingle with your co-workers on a regular basis.

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Start small. Go to the break room twice a week for five minutes and strike up a conversation with whoever is there. Ask them about a project they’re working on or take the chance to thank them for something they helped you out on earlier in the week. You’re just trying to break the ice, so don’t stress out if you run out of things to talk about quickly. The key is baby steps.

From there, build up to weekly happy hours or team lunches to improve your social skills. Since these are longer events, it’ll require more interaction. However, because there will be multiple people there, you can make the rounds without putting too much pressure on yourself to talk with one person for an extended period of time.

5. Be mindful of your tone and body language.

The messages we send out to others aren’t purely defined by our words. Your tone and body language can also speak volumes. A variety of research reported on in Forbes found that everything from a smile to better posture can help you develop better relationships in the workplace.

Pay attention to co-workers who you view as confident and likeable. Do they stand up straight? How well do they maintain eye contact? Do they use certain words or tones that make them particularly effective communicators? Try to incorporate those things into your body language. Don’t stand or say things that seem unnatural to you, but practice in front of a mirror so you can improve your stance, movement, and tone in a way that’s natural to you.

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Your co-workers can play an important part in your professional success. They can be there to help you when you’re facing a problem or inspire you to work harder. But in order to develop those relationships, you have to focus on improving your interpersonal skills.

What are some other ways to become more of a people person? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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