12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover


By Jennifer R. Farmer


It has been said that you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for. I have seen this play out time and time again – in my own life and in the lives of others. Chances are, you have too. Have you ever been in an employment situation where you were hired and thought you had an okay deal only to realize a colleague received a great deal?

Regardless of how skilled you are, chances are you can benefit from tips that position you to be a better negotiator. For example, if you are in talks to purchase a home and are wrangling among a seller, the seller’s agent and your own agent, you could benefit from tools to help you remain calm under pressure and assert your wishes.

If you are preparing to negotiate for a new position or promotion, and are questioning whether you are asking for too little, too much or just enough, here are at least 12 points on how to negotiate better so you can keep in mind prior to heading into negotiations.

1. Understand That Negotiations Are Inherently Stressful, and That’s Ok

Walking into a negotiation is not like walking into an informal lunch with a friend. Negotiations are inherently stressful, and you should let yourself off the hook for feeling anxious about these adrenaline-pumping discussions.

Minda Harts, the founder of The Memo, shared,

“Negotiations are a high-stakes game because everything is on the line. It is natural to feel anxiety. Whether you are negotiating pay, equity or whatever, it is important to prepare for high-stakes conversations. You can do this by conducting research, role-playing and getting clear on your worth.”

2. Know Your Worth

Before you ever sit down at a bargaining or negotiating table, you should have a clear sense of your worth. Understand what you do better than others and understand how your work will improve the organization or company to which you belong or are seeking to join.

At the most fundamental level, you should have a good sense of how your skills will add value to the company. When you have a sense of your worth, you have a starting point or frame of reference in negotiations. You will also be better prepared to answer the “what’s your salary requirement?” question.

Harts agreed,

“If you go into a negotiation not knowing your worth, you’ll look to others to define your worth and they may not value your contribution appropriately. Understanding your skills and expertise, and knowing your worth allows you to position yourself from a place or power.”

3. Understand Your Emotion and the Emotions of Others

In the workplace, women have been conditioned to hide or abandon emotion. Men and women alike are told emotion has no place in negotiations. This isn’t entirely true. It doesn’t serve us well to avoid or discard emotion.

We should understand our emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you understand your emotions and work to be emotionally intelligent, you anticipate what others are feeling and respond accordingly.

When you consciously try to understand the emotions of others, you allow that insight to assist you, enabling you to pivot and adjust during the actual negotiation. Failing to understand emotions may mean you are unable to develop creative approaches for unanticipated challenges.

Researchers Kimberlyn Leary, Julianna Pillemer and Michael Wheeler observed in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article:[1]

“The truth is that your passions matter in real-life deal making and dispute resolution. You need to understand, channel, and learn from your emotions in order to adapt to the situation at hand and engage others successfully. That means you need to be emotionally prepared to negotiate—even when you expect the process to go smoothly.”

4. Conduct Tons of Research
You cannot begin to know what is fair and what is appropriate without research.

If you are negotiating for a new position or promotion, you’ll want to know your predecessor’s benefits package. You’ll want to try to determine what the last person who interviewed and perhaps was offered the position received. You will want to review a company’s 990 to determine what its highest earners make and what those people do. You will want to know what the market offers for positions like the one to which you are applying and what you can be replaced for.

If you are negotiating for a new home, you will want to know what the home appraises for, whether there are liens against the property, what upgrades the seller has made to the home and what other homes on the block have sold for. You will also want to know whether there have been foreclosures in the area so you will know how those foreclosures impact your property value.

If you are in labor negotiations, there is a whole set of other information (such as profits, information from 990s, public complaints, long-term goals, etc.) you need to know before you can begin to know what is fair and acceptable for both the company and the union.

The bottom line is that walking into a negotiation without information is a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction.

5. Understand What Motivates the Other Party

For some people, status matters. For others, money and resources matter. For others still, autonomy and flexibility are motivators.

Regardless of which side of the negotiating table you sit on, you need to understand what motivates the people with whom you are negotiating. You cannot assess what you will need to give or make appropriate offers without an understanding of key motivators.

6. Don’t Wait for Perfection

One of the things I loved about Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code was their take on the dangers of perfection. They assert that often women wait for perfection before submitting projects or asking for a raise or promotion. They point out that we underestimate our own work.

I see this in my own career, and I imagine it rings true for others as well. The key takeaway for me from their book was that perfection isn’t insurance for progress. You don’t have to be perfect to begin negotiations over what you want.

If you wait for perfection, you may never seek out that raise, promotion or reassignment.

7. Say If Afraid

If you are someone who shuns conflict and the very thought of negotiating unnerves you, you should know that you can negotiate while afraid.

You do not have to be courageous to negotiate. You can ask for what you want, even when it scares you.

I remember desperately wanting a pay increase but was too afraid to ask for it. I was fearful I would introduce the topic at the wrong time; I was fearful my boss would scoff when I made my request; and most importantly, I was afraid she would say no.

My boss was an incredibly busy lawyer, and I knew every moment of her time was valuable. However, I knew that my silence and unwillingness to ask for what I wanted would gnaw at me.

I resolved that I was just going to ask and blurted out my request during a check-in. She said no. I thought about my presentation and realized that I should have made my request in a more formal manner. I should have put it in writing and outlined my contributions. I didn’t anticipate that even an informal request could get me closer to what I wanted.

A couple of months later, my boss told me that she hadn’t forgotten my request, and when it was time for the annual cost of living increase, I received that as well as a small bump. She did exactly as she promised.

Going forward, I will be better prepared, but the lesson for me was to ask, even when fearful.

8. Be Willing to Walk Away

Every opportunity is not for you. Regardless of how much you want that position, home or promotion, be willing to walk away if you do not receive a deal that makes sense for you.

Do not allow yourself to get desperate and accept a position that you will come to view unfavorably in the future. Have enough confidence in yourself and in your abilities to leave the table completely.

When your sparring or negotiating partner realizes that you are willing to walk away completely, he or she may negotiate in better faith.

9. Shun Secrecy

I am a proponent of being discreet, but discreetness can be the enemy when it comes to negotiations.

To negotiate the best deal, you may need to shun secrecy. You will need to ask others what they earn or whether the offer you received makes sense for your years of experience, for the area of the country where you live or the position to which you are applying.

If possible, find out whether the company offered the position to others and on what terms. I was negotiating for a position and was comfortable accepting $85,000, and then a friend told me the company offered the position to a man with similar credentials and experience for $100,000. With the assistance of a friend, I was able to get $99,840.

This example illustrates why it is important to speak with trusted colleagues and mentors about offers and solicit their input on whether you are getting the best deal.

10. Look for the Win-Win

Negotiations are not one side takes all, so try not to fall into the “winners” and “losers” trap. It is possible to negotiate in a way where there are no losers but everyone wins.

The best way to ensure a win-win situation is having tons of research, understanding what motivates the other party and being willing to show and discern emotion.

Another strategy for identifying the win-win is listening carefully during negotiations to discern what is of interest to the other party. People will tell you what they want – the question is whether you are listening.

If you are in tune with the person with whom you are negotiating, you will be better equipped to identify what he or she needs to feel satisfied and give it to that individual.

11. Refuse to Fill the Pregnant Pause

In my line of public relations work, I train colleagues and clients to resist the urge to fill the pregnant pause during media interviews. One tactic that some reporters use is silence during different stages of the interview, hoping the interviewee will keep talking. But with an abundance of words comes an abundance of opportunity for error.

The same is true in negotiations. Once you state your salary and compensation package requirements, be quiet. If the person you are speaking with gets silent, you remain silent with him or her. Do not fill the pregnant pause by lowering your requirements or awkwardly adding chatter because you are uncomfortable with silence. Refuse to fill the pregnant pause.

12. Be Honest

When you are negotiating for a new position, be clear with yourself about what you need. Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with others.

If the offer represents 70 percent of what you want, do not discard the 30 percent that you are not receiving. If you are honest, you can make an informed decision about whether the position is indeed in your best interest or whether you should open yourself up for other opportunities.

If you can be mindful of these points and utilize these tactics, I am confident you will negotiate in a manner that gets you and the other party what you both truly need. You can negotiate like a pro and get the life that you deserve.

More Resources About Workplace Communication


Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


Reference
[1] ^ Harvard Business Review: Negotiating with Emotion


This article was first published at Lifehack


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11 Tips on How to Resolve (Almost) Any Conflict in the Workplace


By Margaret Olatunbosun


It takes a lot to lead people who have the same desire, dream, and vision. It is even more challenging to lead transformation and change in people who are deeply entrenched in tradition and have a rigid way of thinking. As a result, it is not uncommon for conflict to arise in the marketplace due to a difference in opinion and communication styles.

However, not all conflicts in the workplace are bad.

Healthy conflicts are good. An absence of conflict is an indication that critical thinking and a quest to question existing processes is missing in the organization. It is a huge red flag that suggests every thought or behavior is heavily moderated by someone or some people who hate criticism of any kind.

But what happens when things go awry and no one is listening at all? How do you get back on track, strengthen weakened relationships, and resolve conflicts before they become catastrophic to the entire organization?

Here are 11 tips on how to resolve almost any conflict in the workplace:

1. Identify an Outcome for the Resolution

The very first thing you need to determine as you head into a conflict resolution meeting is what you want to achieve.

Unlike most relationships, not all conflict resolutions in the workplace end with hugs, handshakes, and selfies. With that said, your approach to conflict is going differ depending on the outcome you want to achieve and/or your personality type.

There are different types of approaches to conflict resolution. They are:

  • Collaborative: In the collaborative approach, both parties aren’t burning bridges or trying to drive the other to ruin. Instead, they mutually work together to discover best practices and solutions to problems they experience.
  • Avoidance: This is very self-explanatory. With this approach, you ignore whispers, grunts, comments, and anything deemed offensive. Although the avoidance approach is not advised, it’s best used when stakes are very low and the relationships between both parties isn’t going to deteriorate.
  • Accommodation: With this approach, you’re considering the other party’s needs as more important than yours at the moment, and are willing to let them “win” in order to arrive to a peaceful solution. As this approach suggests, there is yielding from one party in the attempt to please the other.
  • Compromise: Compromise means each side gets to make mutual concessions and are willing to work together to come up with mutually pleasing outcome to both sides. With this approach, there is no loser as individuals or corporations strive for a balance with their demands.

So, the results of your resolution really depends on the degree of conflict, the type of conflict, and the outcome you want.

A disagreement between a company’s employees who belong to a union and the company’s management will take on a different approach from an interpersonal conflict between two employees in the same department. The stakes and outcomes are different which means there might be a combination of 2 or more styles of approaches to conflict.

2. Set Some Rules

The old adage that says it takes years to build relationships but few moments to ruin them is true. As a result, there are rules for how to approach conflict resolution. It doesn’t matter how minor the conflict is, you need to set some rules for how to approach resolution.

Rules are not meant to be constraints; rather, they help you operate within the boundaries of strengths which often lead to favorable outcomes. When managing conflict among co-workers, it helps to have a set of standards that everyone adheres to.

It’s not just this; rules provide a sense of security and and an assurance of fairness, something that is very much a contradiction to conflict in the first place.

Examples of such rules (depending on the degree of conflict) include: asking employees to temporarily step away from their positions, restricting authority granted to employees, or subjecting all parties involved to a formal, linear process towards resolution.

3. Invest in Your Communication and Listening Skills

Conflict resolution depends on your ability to not only hear what’s been said but also to decipher the nuances of words, body language, ‘sighs,’ and even silence. Add in several variables like religion, cultural background, ethnicity, gender, and economic differences and you have a complex case of epic misunderstandings.

This means that what an employee born in the United States finds assertive might be totally inappropriate for someone who was born and raised in a different country

Your excellent communication and listening skills will enable you to step away from the societal norms, break away from patterns that pigeonhole your decision-making skills, and open you up to different perspectives so that you can identify cues for repairing strained relationships.

4. Hold Face-To-Face Meetings

Whenever you can, always aim for a face-to-face meeting. It is challenging to convey emotions in emails because the effect of nonverbal communication is lost behind computer screens and mobile phones.

When it comes to resolving conflict, we don’t just speak and hope for the best to happen because we intend them that way. We engage all aspects of nonverbal communication. Things like tone, vocal range, micro expressions, and body language can communicate more than a simple “I apologize” in the body of an email.

5. Avoid Personal Attacks

While there could be intense emotional response to not being heard, it is important that personal attacks be discouraged and refrained from during the process of conflict resolution. Rather than result to ad hominem attacks, you should adopt a better way to communicate your feelings.

Examples of how to do this includes emphasizing the use of I-messages. With I-messages, you’re taking control of the dialogue and how the behavior made you feel. So, instead of saying “You are so rude!” when addressing conflict, a better way to communicate your displeasure without diminishing how you feel would be “I feel disrespected when you chew your gum loudly while I’m teaching in class.”

I-messages not only caters to your emotional needs, it encourages you to take responsibility by acknowledging how your actions could have contributed to the breakdown in the relationship.

6. Avoid Assigning Blame

Similar to the point above, assigning blame or taking sides is one sure way to dissolve a relationship faster than repairing one. It is human to find fault in something or someone other than ourselves. However, the goal of conflict resolution is to reduce the likelihood of shouting matches of who’s to blame and this starts by taking responsibility.

In an article by Make a dent Leadership, two types of stories in any conflict are identified:[1]

One is the story we tell ourselves to justify what’s happening, and the second story is one you tell yourself about others.

These stories can either put you under a blameless spotlight or label others in a negative light. But for conflict resolution to take place, assigning blame is not an option.

7. Hire an External Mediator

Sometimes conflict is so intense that both parties can’t seem to find a middle ground. That’s okay. In this case, it is worth it to hire an external mediator. A mediator is someone who is trained in the areas of conflict management, negotiation, and is a skilled facilitator for many cases.

According to the American Bar Association, a mediator is often needed when settlements are at a stall.[2] Not only is a mediator often required by the court sometimes, it is also less expensive and doesn’t involve a drawn-out process a normal trial would.

8. Find Common Ground

Finding common ground means searching for ideas, interests, and beliefs that are shared between opposing parties and using this to open the lines of communication for further negotiation.

This sounds easy but is actually quite challenging to put to practice. If it were this easy, there would be no reports of conflict between people, corporations, and nations.

However, when everything else fails, finding common ground can be the very thing that brings opposing parties back to the table to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution.

9. Stick to the Facts

It’s easy to fall into the trap of digging up events that happened days, months, or years ago in an attempt to shift blame to a different party. But this only makes things worse.

No matter how tempting it is to emphasize how emotionally hurt a behavior made your feel, the goal of conflict resolution is to focus on the facts instead of the interpretation of it.

For instance, if somone stepped on your toes while she was on her way to her cubicle, it should be stated as “Sarah stepped on my toes” not “Sarah tried to get be angry this morning.” This anger is an emotional response, an emotion you control, not Sarah.

10. Identify Barriers Preventing

Change from Happening
According to HR Daily Advisor, identifying barriers to change helps you define what can be changed, what can’t, and how you can get around these roadblocks.[3] Organizations can hire the best mediators or personal development experts but until they recognize and address the barriers preventing change, all efforts to settle differences will fail.

Just like you can’t treat or administer medications without having a medical diagnosis, you can’t begin to change processes and ideas without unraveling why there is friction between both parties.

11. Initiate a Conflict Management Policy

Not every conflict should degenerate into a full-blown newsworthy affair. But in order to maintain an atmosphere of respect and mutual understanding in the workplace, there needs to be a documentation of acceptable behavior and steps to take should interpersonal conflict get out of hand.

These predictions of behaviors or expectations are usually contained in documents also known as policies or employee handbooks.

A conflict management policy is a lighthouse that helps you navigate disagreement of varying levels and stakes, and an organization should never be left without one.

The Bottom Line

It is perfectly normal to experience conflict. Healthy conflict inspires growth and innovation while drawing out the gifts inside of you. The key is to recognize the shift from health to unhealthy and begin the steps to restore a balance to existing relationships.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference
[1] ^ Makeadent: The Five Most Common Types of Conflict In The Workplace
[2] ^ American Bar Association: Winning at Mediation
[3] ^ HR Daily Advisor. 6 Steps to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace


This article was first published at Lifehack


How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office


By Mat Apodaca


We all have our own unique way of communicating with each other. This is true in our personal lives as well as at work.

We all have run into people at both work and play that we just don’t seem to get. Not only do we not hit it off with them, we honestly have a hard time understanding the point they are making. It can be very frustrating interacting with someone when it seems like we are miles apart in the understanding department.

On the flip side, it’s awesome when we hit it off with people that just seem to “get us”. The conversation flows and there is an immediate sense of connection. There’s a reason for that.

In this article, we will look at 4 different communication styles. While we will focus on how to understand and work with different communication styles at the office, this can hold true in our personal lives as well. It will benefit you greatly at work to be cognizant of these different communication styles.

Once you are familiar with them, you will find it easier to navigate communicating with different communication styles at the office.

Let’s look at four primary communication styles at work.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. 4 Communication Styles
1. Functional
2. Analytical
3. Personal
4. Intuitive

2. How To Work With Different Communication Styles
3.Conclusion

4 Communication Styles

There are certainly more than 4 communication styles. We all have our own unique way of communicating.

Most people tend to have components of the communication that will place them more towards one of these 4 styles. It’s worth noting that very few of us fit exactly into one of these communication styles. We do have a stronger tendency and show attributes towards one or two.

Let’s take a look at the four primary communication styles. You will see characteristics in yourself that have similarities to one or more of these.

It also helps provide you with some insight into others communication style. This will allow you to be more aware of how we talk, interact, and communicate with each other and help you be a more effective communicator.

1. Functional

A functional communicator is someone who likes to get deep into the details. Someone who likes to understand how everything works.

They tend to be methodical, process driven and very detail oriented. He or she likes to work with timelines and milestones.

Think of a functional communicator like a detail oriented project manager. They like to see the whole picture as well as the details that make it all happen.

A functional communicator likes to ensure they have a full understanding of projects before they kick things off and get started.

Functional communicators rarely make big mistakes because they focus on the many details. People like working with functional communicators because they work on a granular level and uncover possible mistakes that can be made.

Jumping right into something and “winging it” makes a functional communicator very uncomfortable. They can tend to be long winded and over detailed so when presenting to others don’t be surprised to see numerous glassy eyes in the audience.

2. Analytical

Analytical communicators have similarities to functional communicators. They tend to be less emotional. They like hard numbers and are data driven.

An analytical communicator likes direct conversation and does not do well with ambiguity or shades of gray. They tend to be good at making fair, fact based decisions without the emotional baggage attached to it. They sometimes come off as cold and emotionless.

Analytical communicators have little patience for emotional words and feelings when communicating. When you tell them sales are down, they want to know how much, as in a specific percentage.

One of their really great assets is that they are able to look at issues logically and analytically. On the downside, other people sometimes think of them as detached and robotic.

3. Personal

People with a personal communication style value emotional language and connection. They find a lot of value in not just what someone is saying and what they are thinking but also how they are feeling.

Being good listeners and a tendency to being diplomatic are trademarks of the personal communicator. A personal communication style can help smooth over conflicts and are very interested in the health of relationships.

Personal communicators really value connection and use that as a way to discovering how someone is truly thinking and feeling.

A huge upside to a personal communicator is that their style of communication tends to build deep personal relationship with others. They can be the glue that keeps things together.

On the downside, personal communicators can be viewed as too “touch feely” or “warm and fuzzy” by analytical communicators. I have a lot of traits of a personal communicator.

4. Intuitive

People with an intuitive communication style like to see the big picture. They don’t like getting bogged down in the weeds or too many details.

When communicating, many times they will get right to the point without any fluff. They don’t have to hear the whole story or chain of events to get to the end result, just skip right to the good stuff.

As you might imagine the upside to an intuitive communicator is that, they are direct. No nonsense and extra information needed, just right to the end game.

The not as great side to being an intuitive communicator is they usually lack patience. When dealing with other communication styles, they lose interest and focus fast. They aren’t big fans of all the details or the step by step process that led something from point A to point B.

Again, they are great at looking at the big picture and being direct in communication. They aren’t so great in the details pieces of communication which can be an issue.

How To Work With Different Communication Styles

Now that we’ve taken a look at the 4 primary communication styles, let’s take a look at how to work with each style at the office.

In this section, you will learn the best way to interact and communicate with each style. As a reminder, understanding different communication styles will help you work and communicate better at work.

How to Work with a Functional Communicator

When you work with a functional communicator here are some key points to keep in mind.

The whole picture

Remember, functional communicators like to see the details in relation to the whole picture. Therefore, it’s a good idea to show them the complete plans of what you are speaking to them about.

Same thing goes in a written communication. They like to take the time to review the entire process and details. It’s important to them to understand their role and responsibilities in the project.

Provide feedback

Functional communicators enjoy hearing feedback throughout the journey. Provide them with your input on how they are doing. They are typically open to feedback from their peers.

Questions

They will tend to ask a lot of questions. Again, this comes from wanting to understand the entire scope of the project before they get going.

Allow them to ask as many questions as they need. A functional communicator will work best with a boss or manager that allows them to ask a lot of of questions AND will provide real feedback.

This is of major importance to remember when working with a functional communicator at the office.

How to Work with an Analytical Communicator

Bring the numbers

As a reminder, analytical communicators like numbers and hard facts. When you interact with an analytical communicator, be ready to back up your story with facts and figures.

Data means everything to this communication style so the more you bring, the better off things will go.

Be logical Spock

Just like Spock was always spouting about how things were or weren’t logical, so is the analytical communicator. They live in the logical world and don’t have high regard for emotions.

When they are ready to make a decision, it is almost always based on the numbers, not on how they feel about it.

Cut the chit chat

Analytical communicators aren’t great conversationalists. They don’t like stories that make a point.

When you interact with this communication style, get to the point with your data and facts and figures. Don’t waste your breath on small talk. At least don’t spend much time on the small talk and chit chat.

How to Work with a Personal Communicator

Open up

Remember that personal communicators focus first and foremost on relationships. They like to understand what someone is feeling as well as thinking.

Be willing to share with them how you feel about a subject. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal but more about if you are feeling good or not about how a project is going. That’s what is important to them.

Personally, I respond very well when someone opens up to me about how they are feeling about something. In my opinion, it develops a sense of trust.

Be live

Personal communicators respond better to conversation in real life as opposed to over email or the phone.

Whenever possible, talk to them in person. They thrive on the in person experience and don’t always respond well to emails.

Don’t sweat the data

Personal communicators don’t respond as well to data and metrics and numbers nearly as much as emotion and connections.

Unlike analytical and functional communicators who love and thrive on data, it doesn’t do much for the personal communicator.

Don’t worry too much about providing detailed numbers to back up your point. I enjoy data to a point but can’t spend too much time analyzing a spreadsheet.

How to Work with an Intuitive Communicator

Short and sweet

Since intuitive communicators like to understand the big picture without the details, it’s best to keep conversations short and sweet.

Don’t worry about bringing lots of details and instructions. Keep the conversation on point.

Feel free to provide a quick overview of the steps of the process or the big picture overview but don’t get into the weeds. An intuitive communicator will lose patience and interest fast.

Provide visuals

As intuitive communicators like to see the whole picture, having a visual or two is great when interacting with them.

Don’t be surprised if they whip out a pen and paper, and begin sketching the idea you are talking about. Being able to see it and not just speak it goes a long way with an intuitive communicator.

Allow ideas

They love being able to see and understand the big picture. If you are managing an intuitive communicator, allow them the space to share their ideas.

Let them talk to you about their ideas, and provide them with an outlet for sharing the big picture ideas they bring to the table. This can be a real asset if you allow it and conversely a point of contention if you don’t.

Conclusion

We’ve taken a look at 4 major communication styles that many of us see in the office. Now that you have a good understanding of the communication styles, take a look at yourself and see what your communication style is.

Do any of these seem like you?

Like most of us, you probably visualize yourself as primarily being like one of the 4 styles with some traits of one or two of the others.

It’s important to keep these communication styles in mind when working with others. Once you understand and work with different communication styles in the office, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively. And communicating more effectively with others at the office will pay rich dividends in your career.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user rawpixel rawpixel @rawpixel rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career


By Mat Apodaca


The power of effective communication is amazing. A company that clearly communicates their strategy can get everyone working towards the same goal. Alternatively, a company that has a lack of communicate strategy clearly isn’t going to get good buy-in from the folks that work there because they don’t know the vision.

If you’ve seen someone who delivers a speech that moves you to do something, you’ve seen powerful communication in action. Someone who is able to motivate others through the effectiveness of delivering a message is quite powerful indeed. When it gives you tingles, you know it’s great.

I realized the power of communication way back in my days as a Kinko’s store manager. I can’t really describe how many orders didn’t turn out the way they should have due to lack of communication. This happened both when a customer would not clearly explain what they were wanting as well as the co-worker who didn’t effectively communicate what our capabilities were. The majority of these mistakes boiled down to a lack of communication.

We’ve all read about how you have to speak up to get what you want. If you are in a relationship and don’t effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner, chances are you won’t receive those wants and needs. This is true in just about any situation. The same thing is true at work. If you don’t communicate what you want out of a career or what is important to you, chances are it will drastically impact your career. A lack of communication at work can have a detrimental effect in many ways.

Stating what you want isn’t selfish, it’s required for you to have the relationship or career that you want. The ability to communicate well is a huge bonus in helping you attain the career you want.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

2. Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Verbal

Written

3. How Strong Communication Make Your Career Better
4. Conclusion

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

If you think about it, every day at work you are building your reputation. As you gain experience in your field, you are also building your name. Your name, your reputation, your status, your character, and your standing in your company and field are being created each and every day by what you do. Or by what you don’t do.

You might become known as someone who gets things done. Maybe you’re the person that always has a creative solution. When an important project comes up it might be your name that comes to mind to lead the team.

If you have poor communication skills or a lack of communication, your name probably isn’t the one that comes to mind when that big project comes up. Or a fat raise. Not to mention a promotion. Here are some reasons why:

You won’t get the support or tools you need to succeed.

How do you expect to get the tools and resources you need to do the best possible work if you aren’t able to communicate it? You can’t!

A lack of communication will keep you with whatever resources you have. It’s up to you to know what you need to be successful in your job and communicate that need.

One of the biggest ones is ongoing development of your work skills. You have to stay on top of what’s current (and ask for it) or you won’t stay relevant in your field. This happens a lot in dynamic industries such as technology.

There’s a good possibility you’ll be misunderstood.

When you aren’t able to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. It’s much easier for people to misunderstand what you mean or your position on something if you lack communication skills.

If you are unable to get your point across, it’s easy for your coworkers to simply assume what you mean, whether they are right or not.

A lack of communication greatly increases the chances you will be misunderstood.

You could get left out or misinformed.

People who are poor communicators or lack communication skills tend to be bad listeners.

Bad listeners do not pay as much attention to what’s being said as they should. They also wind up interrupting a lot and jump to their own conclusions without really knowing what’s going on.

These type people find themselves getting left out of more and more conversations because their coworkers get tired of dealing with them.

Nobody likes to work with someone who interrupts all the time and never really listens. After a while the only person they have left to talk to is themselves.

Lack of communication creates doubt and uncertainty.

This is especially true if you are a manager of people. A lack of communication to your team can create a lot of uncertainty.

I know people who weren’t really sure what they were responsible for in their roles because their manager never communicated goals and expectations.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon. This holds true even with working with other people.

If you aren’t able to communicate to others what you are doing or what’s going on, you are going to instill doubt.

Your lack of communication can lead to rumors and gossip.

When we don’t hear about something, it’s human nature to fill in the blanks with our own version. We don’t like uncertainty so will solve the mystery ourselves when we have a lack of communication from someone we work with.

Your annual review is 2 months overdue and you haven’t heard anything from your boss? They might be considering eliminating your position. One of your coworkers is always out of the office on Friday afternoons? They probably get special treatment for some reason.

See how this lack of communication can cause rumors and speculation?

Now that we’ve looked at some ways that a lack of communication can drastically impact your career, let’s look at how you can improve your communication skills.

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

When you think about improving your communication skills at work you need to look at the primary ways we communicate, verbal and written.

Let’s take a look at how to improve both your written and verbal communication skills.

Verbal

1. Less is more

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and felt like the other person spoke the whole time and you learned nothing? Don’t be that person.

When you speak at work make it short and sweet. It’s fine to catch up and talk about the weather but when it’s time to talk about the important stuff, don’t overload your audience with a word avalanche.

2. Be a good listener

It may seem funny to be a good listener in order to be a good communicator but it actually makes sense.

When you show that you actually listen and care about what other people are saying it shows that you understand their needs. This enables you to build trust in the relationship. It’s key.

3. Be confident

When you speak with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about.

This isn’t just about verbal, it’s also about your body language. Speak in a clear tone of voice and maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This conveys your confidence.

4. Think before you open your mouth

When you have a fairly good idea of what you are going to say before you actually speak, you are able to convey your ideas more clearly. This also helps you eliminate longer pauses when you are speaking.

5. Concise

Ever read the Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”? Sage words from an incredibly wise man.

This is so true at work as well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and simply so other people can understand you. Critical.

Written

6. Check your grammar and spelling

This is number one for a reason. At work, it is vitally important that you do not have grammatical errors in your written communication. This includes reports as well as emails.

Having typos peppered into your written communication makes others think that you are too lazy or sloppy to care about spelling. Bad news.

7. Clear and concise

This is just as important in written as it is in verbal.

Most of us receive way too many emails at work. Nobody likes wading through seas of information to find the one or two points they need. There’s no need to put a lot of filler in when less will do.

8. Know your audience

If you are composing an email to the President of your company, you should write in a certain tone.

If the email is to your coworker that you have lunch with every day and go get after work drinks on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need to be as formal.

Write to your audience.

9. Use structure

This goes along with being clear and concise. If you write emails in one long paragraph consisting of 1,000 words, you are making your readers eyes glaze over.

Use things like subheadings, bullet points, and numbering when needed to break up the words and create some nice structure that flows. This is true in any written documentation whether it be reports, emails, or something else.

10. Use names

To make it more friendly and engaging, use your audience names when possible. Obviously you can’t do this in a formal report but with emails and similar you sure can.

I have found that wrapping up with someone’s name also helps them respond in a more timely and positive manner. Something like:

“As you can see Jim, this will go a long way to helping us get the Morris account, I look forward to hearing back from you soon”.

How Strong Communication Make Your Career Better

When you develop strong communication skills, it can help your career in many ways.

First of all, strong communication skills show confidence in yourself and your ideas. This is a great quality to have in general and certainly at work. When you are confident in your abilities, it makes others see you as a leader.

Strong communication skills helps you get your points across. When you can clearly and concisely state your view on important points, you are clearly understood. When you are clearly understood, it helps others buy into your ideas easier.

Possessing the ability to convey what you need effectively will help you get the tools and resources you need to do your job the best you can. When you can articulate to your boss that going to a conference helps you stay at the top of your game, you’ve got a good chance of going.

If your boss is like mine, he or she will make you show the ROI (return on investment) for getting new resources. Not hard to do if you can communicate well.

Having good communication is a skill senior leadership looks for in others to help lead teams. I know I’ve been around managers who lead a team but are bad a communicating goals, processes, and expectations. It leads to under performing groups and subpar results. Not exactly leadership material.

If you are a leader, then having strong communication skills is critical to getting others to follow your vision. Working for a leader with poor communication skills to share their vision only leads to a boat going in circles. Who wants to be on that ride?

Conclusion

We’ve explored how a lack of communication can drastically impact your career. When you show a lack of communication, it can drastically impact how successful a career you have.

Speak up to get what you want. Having strong communication skills can help you do just that.

Let’s communicate, people!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home


By Mat Apodaca


Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

TABLE OF CONTENT

1. What is Effective Communicatio

2. Are You a Poor Communicator?

3. What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Work

Personal relationship

4. Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

5. How to Master Effective Communication Skills

6. Conclusion

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


7 Most Important Communication Techniques to Master in the Workplace


By Mat Apodaca


Communication in the workplace is critical to success. Success for you as an individual and success for the company. Teams work so much better with clear, consistent communication. Your ability to communicate well directly impacts your success, your teams success, and therefore the companies success.

In this article, we will take a look at why good communication is so critical in the workplace. We will then look at the 7 most important communication techniques in the workplace you need to know. You will be able to clearly see why having strong communication skills are a must have resource for your success at work.

With that, let’s examine why strong communication is so critical in the workplace.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Why Communication Is Critical in the Workplace
  2. 7 Most Important Communication Techniques in the Workplace
  3. Final Thoughts
  4. Why Communication Is Critical in the Workplace
  5. Being able to communicate well will help you in all areas of your work. You’ll be able to work more effectively with your coworkers, your bosses, and clients. Strong communication impacts your relationships with everyone you work with.

If you are a leader, it is vital that you are able to convey clear information to others on your team. You’ll be able to create a vision everyone can see. You can share goals that the entire group can get behind. A much better sense of team can be created by your ability to communicate. Conversely, you’ll be the captain of a rudderless ship if you don’t communicate well.

Clear communication is important in every area of our lives. From our workplace to our personal relationships. We can look at 3 areas of our work where communication is extremely important:

The Company

It cannot be understated how important clear communication from company leaders is. This is an area that is easy to spot if it’s a yes or a no.

Company leaders that convey a clear message about company goals, values, and culture are doing everyone a wonderful service. It gets everyone going in the same direction. As a company you’ll hire the kind of people who align with the company culture and values. Everybody knows what’s important.

Companies that have poor communication from leaders suffer because of it. People that work for the company don’t know what’s important. They tend to not know what the values of the companies are. Culture becomes something they aren’t able to tell anyone about because they don’t know.

Are we trying to grow this year? By how much? What do we care about as a company? How are we staying ahead or at least on pace with our competitors? What are new developments in our industry? Hard to know these answers if you never hear it from the leaders.

Your Team

Almost everyone works with a team of some sort. Your team might be 2 or it might be in a group of 20. It doesn’t really matter, you have to be able to communicate.

Chances are you are all in one department so you are working towards a common goal. It might be an project getting ready to launch or recruiting for your company or the sales team. It’s vital to be able to clearly communicate with other members of your team about goals, processes, challenges, and camaraderie in general.

Your Boss

It is critical to be able to communicate clearly with your boss. Having a good rapport with your boss has so many advantages. It allows you to know what you need to do in order to be successful.

If you can’t communicate with your boss, you won’t be able to get the resources you need to do your job well. You’ve got to be able to have a clear picture of what your boss defines as success in your role. None of this happens without solid open dialogue with your boss.

Plus let’s be real. It’s much more fun and engaging to work for a boss that you get along well with and have a strong working relationship.

7 Most Important Communication Techniques in the Workplace

Let’s take a look at some of the communication techniques that can super charge your success in the workplace.

1. Be Available

One of the easiest ways to have good communication at work is to simply be available. I’ve worked for bosses that were always available to talk to and willing to jump in and help. I’ve worked with fellow coworkers who always had a shut door to their office and took 4 days to return an email.

Guess which scenario creates the better working environment? Not too difficult to figure that one out.

By simply being available you help create a comfortable atmosphere of communication in the workplace.

2. Be Friendly

Being friendly to the people you work with is another fairly easy way to have good communication skills at work. Having a positive attitude and caring about the folks you work with goes a long way.

When you have a friendly, engaging attitude, the people you work with will naturally flow towards you. They will see you as approachable and have an easy time opening up to you.

This type of communication leads to groups that work well together and enjoy being around each other. It helps to develop a good sense of team in the workplace.

3. Be a Good Listener

I’ve covered this in another article but it certainly bears repeating. Good communication isn’t just about conveying information. It’s also about being a good listener in order to fully understand what someone is saying.

When you have well developed listening skills, you are able to fully process what someone is saying. This is mission critical for working closely with someone.

You have to be able to get what they are saying and what they are communicating to you. When you fully understand someone, you are able to have good back and forth communication dialogue, and create a great sense of team and balance!

4. Be Clear

Sharing information clearly is one of the most important communication techniques in the workplace. I have worked with people who can talk for 30 minutes and I am more confused about the question I asked at the beginning than when they answered it.

I’m sure we all know someone who can generate a lot of words coming out of their mouth but really not say anything. Don’t be this person. All it does is hinder communication.

While it’s great to have small talk when you share important information, be very clear about it. Make the points that are needed and don’t build in a lot of fluff around it. Say what is needed in a clear manner. Add more information if needed. Clarity is key.

5. Be Aware of Non Verbal Communication

Remember, non verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Watch other people’s body language when you are interacting with them.

Things like crossed arms and frowns should be big signals that someone either doesn’t agree with you or doesn’t understand. It’s just as important to be aware of your own non verbal communication.

Look at other people in the eye when speaking to them. Have an open posture when someone is speaking to you. This reflects that you are open to what they are saying.

Watch yours and other people’s non verbal communication cues.

6. Be Open to Feedback

Think of this as being someone who is able to be coached. It’s incredibly important towards the beginning of your career but also throughout your career.

Everyone has a boss. Even if you are the president of a company, you have a boss – your customers. Be open to the feedback of your boss, colleagues, and customers. Many people have an issue with constructive criticism.

I find this is the best way to learn about yourself and more importantly, improve yourself. If you aren’t willing to listen to feedback, you’ll never change how you are doing something which means you’ll never improve your results.

7. Be Open Minded

Think about this. If you aren’t open minded while having a conversation with someone, chances are you won’t be listening very well. You’ll be too busy formulating a response to think objectively about what is being said.

Having an open mind will allow you to have a strong dialogue with others that leads to working together to solve problems.

Final Thoughts

Strong communication skills are a wonderful skill to have in your arsenal. Great communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This goes for all of your personal relationships as well as your work partnerships. You will be able to get more of what you want when you communicate well. The listening side of communication helps you understands others needs as well.

We’ve taken a look at the 7 most important communication techniques in the workplace you need to know. As you read through the list, see if you feel you could improve upon any of the techniques.

Challenge yourself to get better at one or a few of them, your work self will thank you!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack