Improve one thing in your workplace to advance your career


improve-one-thingGood workplace communication doesn’t come naturally to a whole lot of us. We need to take the time to understand the do’s and don’ts in order to be successful in our place of work and to advance. Sometimes this means learning when to shut up and other times it can mean learning how to avoid getting emotionally overcome by difficult conversations. These are just a few of the problem areas.

A common irritant in office conversations is frankly when one party doesn’t know when to shut up. In “How To Determine When A Conversation Is Over”, the Accidental IT Leader blog says:

Just as knowing when a conversation with your boss has reached its end, so too is it important that you know how to communicate to your team that a conversation or IT team building session with you is now over. You can use all of the same techniques that your boss uses with you to wrap your own conversations up.

Another great way to place bounds on the conversations that you have with your team has to do with what you do at the start. Before the conversation starts, let everyone involved know that you have limited time. If you tell them when you need to start to work on something else, then you can wrap up the conversation when that time arrives.

Sometimes a more direct approach is called for. There will be times that the person that you are talking with is just not getting any of the “wrap it up” signals that you are sending to them. When this happens, you need to be forthright. You can say something like ‘‘I have really enjoyed the conversation, but I am sure we both have a lot we need to get done.’’ This is direct, to the point, and you’ll get your message across.

Another problem plaguing workplace conversations happens when one party loses control owing to a “hook”. In “Difficult Conversations: Nine Common Mistakes”, an article on Harvard Business Review says:

Mistake #6: We get “hooked.”
Everyone has a weak spot. And when someone finds ours – whether inadvertently, with a stray arrow, or because he is hoping to hurt us – it becomes even harder to stay out of the combat mentality. Maybe yours is tied to your job – you feel like your department doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Or maybe it’s more personal. But whatever it is, take the time to learn what hooks you. Just knowing where you’re vulnerable will help you stay in control when someone pokes you there.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer offers a list of 10 tips to improve your workplace communication for people interested in advancing their Seattle careers.

To better understand the best practices for workplace communication, a good resource is “Communication in the Workplace” on