“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – Chinese proverb.
If you search Google on selfishness, the majority of entries will tell you that you have to be selfish to look after yourself and to succeed in life. You are ensuring that you are contributing to society and not a burden. It is a sort of natural selfishness and is closely related to our survival. It must take priority over helping others. Pretty harmless, you might think…
Then you will find entries on what is termed ‘bad selfishness’ where people exploit others, commit criminal acts to gain money or power by means of fraud, dishonesty and violence. Very nasty, you might shudder…
I have given two rather extreme examples above, but have you thought about more subtle ways in which you may have been selfish unknowingly? Here are 10 examples of the way selfish people behave and without even realizing it.Advertising
“Even six-year-olds who scream, ‘You’re selfish!’ have agendas.” – Rick Gaber
1. They are unaware of the imbalance in a relationship
Any healthy relationship has to have a near perfect balance. This goes for personal and work relationships. If people are all for taking and giving nothing back, then they are selfish and will be shocked when this is pointed out to them. In the workplace, that may be very difficult to broach when your colleague has been selfish in demanding help and giving nothing back. This could be never giving advice, support or performing actual hard work. This can have a terrible effect on staff morale.
2. They baptize their children with weird names
Whatever the reason, these parents are determined to go for something trendy or completely original. This is selfishness because they are not putting their children first: children who will be teased at school and suffer endless corrections of the pronunciation or spelling of the name, not to mention all the incorrect variations that will be floating around. It’s an example of selfish self-absorption and little thought is given to how the child will cope. There are mixed results from studies which might indicate whether the weird name is a handicap or not. A classic is the girl who was called Sue Yoo who become a lawyer!
3. They are nagged
“It’s good to be selfish. But not so self-centered that you never listen to other people.” – Hugh Hefner.
When nagging is a prominent feature in a relationship, it can only mean that the nagged partner is completely insensitive to the other partner’s needs. This can range from not tidying up to being forgetful. It also means that the guilty partner does not take into account their partner’s wishes. The partner who is doing the nagging may well be obsessed and this could be another aspect of selfishness as they are selfishly giving far too much attention to their obsessions and manias!
4. They do not bother to give negative feedback
Whether it is your partner, child or colleague, there is a tendency to gloss over negative feedback or not to give any at all. It may seem a charitable thing to do because you are not hurting the person’s feelings or destroying their confidence, however this is an act of selfishness because you are passing up an opportunity to help the person to improve and do better. Being nice in many cases is the short cut to popularity. In the long term, it could come back and haunt you if you have failed in your duty.
5. They are control freaks
People in management are sometimes control freaks. Their motto seems to be, “If you want to do it right, do it yourself.” Control freaks are usually perfectionists and they are convinced that they are the only capable people in a company or family. The strange thing is that they themselves believe they are benevolently keeping an eye out and are being genuinely helpful and concerned. The reality is that their behavior is selfish to the point of killing initiative, discouraging creativity or even delegating tasks.
6. They are manipulative
The other side of the coin of being a control freak. They are so fearful of losing their position of authority that they employ some nasty tactics. A classic example is where they will not consider a compromise. That means a loss of power. They use their manipulative skills to get the boss on their side. Then they will use tactics such as being perfectly charming while trying to find out information about colleagues and then subtly accuse others or discredit them. If you read Dr. Mary Casey’s book, How to Deal With Master Manipulators, you will discover many other examples of selfish acts.Advertising
7. They are the only people on the planet
How many times have we fumed against people blocking doorways, smoking when it is forbidden, talking loudly on the phone or acting selfishly when driving? These acts of selfishness happen all the time and are obvious manifestations of people thinking they are the only people on the planet.
There are other more subtle examples that we may be unaware of. What about people who may be engrossed with their iPhone and block the aisle on the plane, shop or train? Others get impatient when they do not get an immediate answer to their email. These acts of selfishness make life more difficult for everyone else.
8. They never clean their dog’s mess
When I visited Scotland last year, there were prominent notices saying, “Your dog, your mess, your £40 fine.” The next time you see a person ‘forgetting’ to clean up, ask them to take their dog’s mess home. It is their property after all! Civic duty is still sadly lacking in many areas and selfishness is all around us.
9. They hate team work
Selfish people are unwilling to share, give or brainstorm. They want to work alone because they are in a competitive environment but this selfishness will work against them if they are not careful. An ex-colleague kept a lot of information to herself because she was secretive and selfish. She never got the promotion she so desired and we could all see why.Advertising
I remember one of my first bosses who kept all his teacher training materials at home. Nobody else had access to them so we had to reinvent the wheel when running our own training sessions. I have never hated a boss so much! Giving and sharing are rare words in the selfish person’s vocabulary.
10. They rarely collaborate
It’s all about ego. They know what they want and they are always to the forefront to make sure they get it. When they see an obstacle they become defiant or refuse to collaborate. In addition, their refusal to give an inch is just a symptom of classic selfishness. After all, why should they bother to go out of their way to discover what people are feeling, their ideas, hopes and ambitions?
“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life, they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” – Unknown.
Featured photo credit: Parking mayhem at Kota Kinabalu/ Jason Thien via flickr.comAdvertising
Last Updated on April 11, 2019
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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
- Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work
- How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home
- How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office
- 13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships
Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com