MASTERING THE COMPLEXITIES OF WORKPLACE COMMUNICATION:
Last week, we reviewed communication strategies leading into your first week on the job, from the initial meeting to navigating through the offer process, and finally to appropriate communication for the everyday work situation. This week’s article again focuses on communication in the workplace, but provides suggestions for handling difficult situations you may encounter.
Say that your boss or a co¬worker comes to you needing assistance on a project and they list out the details of the project. A — what they are ask¬ing you to do, you don’t feel you’ll be able to accomplish or B — the timeframe they have given seems to tight.
A word of caution, be careful to be too quick to say you are unable to do the project. If you haven’t even tried and say you can’t do some¬thing, it will leave a poor impression.
Rather, ask your boss for advice on how they would go about accom¬plishing the project. Throughout that discussion offer your ideas on how you might suggest getting to the fin¬ished product. If the timeline is too tight, share with your boss or co¬worker that you have other projects you need to complete, but you are happy to help and tell them when you think you might be able to have the project complete.
You can also follow that comment with, “If that does not work for you, are there others that could help me with the project or could we take a look at my current list of projects and reprioritize so I can get to this project sooner?” Typically if you are upfront and show your willingness to help, most will accept that response.
PROBLEMS WITH A CO¬WORKER
There is nothing that says you will or have to be best friends with everyone in the office. Like life, there will proba-bly be people in your workplace that you just won’t get along with.
How you handle interactions with those people can make a differ¬ence on how you are viewed by your peers and also how you feel about yourself. The Golden Rule applies — Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Problem situations with co¬workers usually revolve around poor communication and not under¬standing the point of view of the other person.
When there is a conflict in the workplace your key weapon to not letting the problem escalate is to lis¬ten. Seek to understand what the other person is trying to communi¬cate to you. Ask questions! In return, ask that your peer hears you out and explain why you feel the way that you do. Stay calm! Remember there is usually more than one way to do something or resolve a problem.
As you’ve experienced in life, you will probably be asked to work in teams. By nature, different people have different personalities and that really becomes apparent when work¬ing in teams. Some prefer to be the leader, some the doer, and others can go back and forth. When you begin working in a team try to define who will act in which roles. If you have more than one per¬son who fits the leader role, deter¬mine if they can work together in that role. If not, maybe assign each a component of the project to lead. No matter what role you play, be sure to let your thoughts and opinions be heard. Good teams seek input from all of their members.
DISSATISFIED WITH YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT
While it may be difficult, the best thing you can do for yourself in the situation of not liking your work environment is to communicate to your superior about it. If you do not have the resources you need to do your job or are unhappy with the physical space you’ve been provided nothing will change unless you say something about it. Approach your boss in a non¬threatening manner and share your thoughts and why they are affecting you.
A manager will realize that your concerns are affecting your produc¬tivity and will hopefully work to resolve the issues. However, know that sometimes managers can’t do much about certain things, like if you have an office with a door. Rather, work with your manager to understand what the root of the issue is. If not having an enclosed office is prohibiting your ability to concentrate, maybe in your cubicle you could wear headphones to drown out some of the background noise when working on a project that requires you to really concentrate.
If your boss is the reason you are dissatisfied with your work environ¬ment, speak with a human resource professional for the organization and explain your reasoning and ask for advice. Remember, you don’t want to appear whiny and need legitimate reasons for coming to them.
WORKING WITH SOMEONE OF A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND
This could be someone from a differ¬ent generation, different culture or even simply the opposite gender. There has been a lot of research done on communication between different generations as well as different gen¬ders. For example, Millennials like to receive a lot of feedback and commu¬nication, while Traditionalists, would rather you not over¬ commu¬nicate with them. While this topic could be a whole additional article, one piece of advice if this becomes an issue for you, would be to ask for some formal or informal training on this topic.
Many organizations are investing in educating staff around genera¬tional differences and might have an easy resource for you to look into, or they might pair you with a mentor of a different generation, race or gen¬der. That personal interaction with someone who is open to you asking questions about understanding them can be extremely helpful.
Many forget that effective com¬munication is a two¬ way street, the person talking and the person listen¬ing. Listening really is just as impor¬tant and can help you handle many workplace communication situa¬tions. Be an active listener and ask questions. Good listening with effec¬tive verbal and written communica¬tion skills will help you become the best employee you can be!
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