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How to Effectively Voice What You Want at Work

How to Effectively Voice What You Want at Work
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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 Are you quiet and withdrawn?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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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