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How to Be the Most Successful One at Work Even If You’re Not The Smartest

How to Be the Most Successful One at Work Even If You’re Not The Smartest

Working in harmony with other people can be quite challenging at times. Perhaps you find they rub you up the wrong way on a daily basis, seem argumentative, unwilling to compromise and generally difficult to get along with.

While the problem may lie with the other person or people, more often than not, it can be a good idea to look at ourselves and see if we can make any improvements in our interpersonal skills. Improving the way we interact with the people we work with can boost our career success.

We Always Talk about Interpersonal Skills, But What Exactly Are They?

Getting ahead in our career is important and interpersonal skills can be broken down into different areas and skill sets. By tackling these skill sets individually, you can create a well-rounded approach to dealing with others in order to get ahead. These areas include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Team Working Skills
  • Negotiation and Persuasion Skills
  • Conflict Resolution Skills

Communication Skills — Speaking Is Only a Way, Not the Only Way

Active Listening: This can be an overlooked skill when we are too focused on what we want to say and how we want to get it across. But active listening is a good way of securing respect, showing concern, understanding and interest.

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Ways in which you can demonstrate active listening[1] can be: paraphrasing to show understanding, asking open-ended questions, asking questions in order to clarify, eye contact, nodding while listening and expressing brief expressions such as “I see”, “sure”, or “I know” while the other person is talking.

Word Choice: The words you use[2] can be incredibly important and choosing them wisely can allow others to understand you much better and create less confusion.

It can be helpful to practice speaking to others, thinking about how you are conveying your message. Ask for feedback to see if you could have expressed your points more clearly in order to highlight areas in which you could improve.

Non-Verbal Communication: It’s not always about the words we speak. How we come across with our body language[3] can have a massive influence on how we are perceived by others. It can give you away if your body language doesn’t match what you are saying.

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Smiling, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, observing others’ reactions to your statements and leaning in to indicate interest are all ways in which you can convey positive communication. By being conscious of your non-verbal communication, you can come across more friendly, trustworthy and approachable.

Humour: Injecting a touch of humour can make you much more relatable and make people more comfortable in your presence. Reacting positively with laughter or seeing the lighter side of a conversation can allow the conversation to flow more easily. Make sure that you’re not inappropriate or offensive.

Team Working Skills — Make Yourself Pleasant to Work with

Flexibility: Understanding differences of opinion with others and making appropriate adjustments is a core skill to develop. Seeing different perspectives can expand your thinking and make others feel respected.

Responsibility: Take responsibility for your role in any team work. It can be easy to push responsibility onto others or blame others for how things progress negatively. Understanding your responsibility and role in a team effort before taking part is crucial to effective communication and positive progression.

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Stress Control: People react to stressful situations in different ways but learning to deal with stress in a contained way can help you when you face stress in the workplace. Consider mindfulness and meditation techniques that can be used when stressful situations crop up.

Ability To Receive Feedback: React positively to any feedback even if it’s negative. Adopt the mindset that it’s an opportunity to improve yourself rather than a reason to put yourself down.

Positivity: People are more likely to be drawn and react better to positive people. In other words, positivity attracts positivity and the same applies to negativity. This is why remaining cheerful and keeping a positive attitude not only helps with others but also with our self-confidence.

Negotiation And Persuasion Skills — Never Create Any Loser

Look For Win-Win Situations: When negotiating, focus on maintaining a good relationship. In other words, make sure you separate the people from the problem. Make sure you create a variety of options for both parties before deciding on the outcome. This way, you can limit disagreements and hostility.

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Compromise: Don’t head into anything with the intention of getting your way. Be ready to compromise and see other people’s perspectives. This way you are much more likely to be respected and have things go in your favour.

Assertion: Developing good assertion skills[4] means being able to stand up for yourself in a positive and calm way. Get your point across in a non-hostile way that doesn’t lead to others getting upset. Developing this skill will gain respect and will show that you’re not a pushover.

Conflict Resolution Skills — Spot Tensions Before They Turn into Conflicts

Empathy: It’s easy to get very caught up in climbing the career ladder thinking that we need to look out for number one. But being empathetic towards others is a key skill in gaining trust and respect among your colleagues. Understand the different perspective of others and don’t make assumptions or dismiss how they see things. It can help you see problems in a different way and allow you to apply this to many situations.

Social Awareness: Having a degree of sensitivity towards potential conflicts can allow you to identify and fix them before it’s too late. This can save you a lot of time and effort, streamlining the path to your ultimate career goal.

Taking into account each different area of communication can greatly improve your interpersonal skills, develop good working relationships and get you much further in your career. Building trust and respect with others should never be dismissed or considered unnecessary because hard work and the ability to get on with everyone in a variety of situations is the key to success.

Reference

[1] The Balance: Active Listening Definition, Skills, and Examples
[2] Skills You Need: Interpersonal Skills
[3] The Balance: Nonverbal Communication Skills
[4] Skills You Need: Assertiveness – An Introduction

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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