But despite your impressive performance, you’re finding that you’re not exactly popular among your co-workers. And that promotion you were expecting did not occur.
What’s going on?
Ask Yourself: Am I Connecting? Or Conflicting?
Well, let’s take a look at your communication skills. You’re likely making a mistake or two.
Not the kind that outright get you in the doghouse. You’re smart enough to stay away from off-color jokes, racially biased comments, or being overly talkative during a meeting.
Instead, we’re talking about the communication habits that prevent you from really connecting with people.
Every time you interact with someone, you have the opportunity to connect or conflict.
And while a missed connection doesn’t always result in outright conflict, it can put you in a neutral zone that eventually affects their evaluation of you. Like at promotion time.
We’d like to think that our accomplishments speak for themselves, but that isn’t always the case. Effective communication with the people at work can make the difference when it comes to how you’ll be spending the next year or two.
Here’s a three-step process to help you make better connections at work.
Step 1: Recognize that people have different communication styles
The clues to a person’s communication style are in their observable behavior – their body language, posture, tone, pace, inflection, volume, and their choice of words.
Your fast-paced, loud-talking boss who confidently leans in and always makes direct eye contact has a different communication style than your quiet-toned, relaxed, non-emotional co-worker who sits back in her chair during a conversation.
You’ve probably already noticed how different they are.
But did you know that if you come on strong, use big hand gestures, and speak forcefully with both of these people, it’s likely that one of them will see you as a decisive go-getter, while the other labels you tactless and aggressive?
So first notice the different styles displayed by the folks at work. They matter.
Step 2: Understand that people have different goals, reactions & perceptions
Some of us are task oriented, while others prefer to focus on people. Some folks have a need to follow rules and procedures while others want to be in charge, just for the sake of being in charge.
While these differences aren’t visible by the observable behaviors mentioned above, they do affect a person’s communication preferences. If you interact with them frequently enough to determine “I just don’t get that guy!” then your perceptions of the world are likely on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Understanding that the folks at work have different goals, reactions, and perceptions than you do puts you one step closer to making a connection.
Step 3: Speak Their ‘Language’
Once you’ve identified the differences between you and your fellow communicator, you’ll know if you need to adapt your style at all.
You might choose to speed up or slow down your speaking pace. Maybe you should increase or decrease your volume. Perhaps you’ll decide to immediately ask about results and deadlines. Or maybe you’ll choose to chat a bit first about how your teammate feels things are going.
Yes, it takes some effort. Maybe even a little planning.
But if you consider, recognize, and adapt your differences when interacting with your boss or a co-worker, you’ll improve your connection with them.
And next time, you’ll likely get that promotion.