Looking for a promotion, but your boss barely even knows your name? It’s a common problem, especially in today’s environment. Cost reductions and downsizing usually results in supervisors having 2-3 times the normal amount of reports. So, how do you stand out in the crowd and differentiate yourself from everyone else?
Since your communications skills and style molds much of the impression on you as a worker, I’ve put together a few tips to help improve these skills. While these alone can’t get you a promotion, it will definitely put you on the right path.
Have an Opinion? Speak Up!
We’ve all seen the movie where the little guy in the office speaks his opinion in a conference room. All around the table, the rest of the suits grow quiet, first stare at him, then turn to the boss to see how they should react. Later, the little guy goes on to get his big break and becomes wildly successful.
Now, this may be an over-exaggeration because after all, it is the movies. However, in the real world, there is some truth to this… just maybe not as dramatic.
What you may not realize is that most people in a work environment try very hard not to stand out in the crowd. They’re afraid to draw attention to themselves and possibly be seen as a trouble maker.
The truth is most (good) managers are looking for people who have an opinion and aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Even if you’re opinion turns out to be wrong, it’s still admired that you spoke up.
Be a Quick Responder
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded by emails, phone calls, and tweets, it’s become commonplace to not expect a response from people for days… sometimes weeks at a time. After all, we’re all busy doing our own thing.
What gets noticed are the people who respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Even if it’s just to say; “Thanks!” or “I got your message and will get back to you soon”, it conveys that you’ve received the message and you will be looking into it.
It’s the same concept as talking to someone one-on-one. We nod, give facial expressions, and say “uh huh” as someone else is talking to confirm that we are in fact listening. The same concepts should apply to all forms of communication.
Focus Your Communications
In other words, don’t bulls#%t!
If you can’t interject anything productive into the conversation, don’t talk at all. But when you do have something productive to add, speak up.
This trains people to know that when you talk, you’re talking for a reason. That you have something important to say and they should listen.
Otherwise, if you’re just talking to talk or trying to stand out, people will just see you as a blowhard, with nothing important to add.
Always Be Constructive
Notice I said constructive — not positive or cheery.
It’s not appropriate to be positive or cheery in all situations. A good example of this is when someone gets laid off or your team misses a goal.
Having a constructive attitude towards both good and bad situations portrays a good balance of professionalism and humanity. That you understand and recognize that things are tough, but things still need to be done.
If You Don’t Know, Say So
We’re all very busy. Aside from our regular work duties, there’s meetings, conference calls, and webinars that can take up to 50% of our work days. Nobody has time to listen to rubbish, and more times than not, it can be spotted a mile away.
If you don’t know the answer to something, say so:
“You know… I don’t know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you this afternoon.”
The key here is to follow up on your promise. You may not know the answer to the question, but you will find out and you will get back to them.
We’ve all been there before—something goes wrong and it’s your fault.
The worst thing you could do in this type of situation is to try to lay blame on someone else or “weasel” your way out of it.
If something goes wrong and it’s your fault, or even partially your fault, own up to it and take responsibility. Even though you did something wrong or made a mistake, by taking responsibility for it, you’ll earn more respect in the long run.
Don’t Brown Nose
Like anyone, this is about the most annoying type of office personality. Chances are, you can identify that person in your office, and if you can’t, it’s probably you.
The cold hard fact is nobody respects them—including the boss. Sure, it may get you invited to the executive golf outing, but you’ll probably end up as the caddy.
Any I missed?
These are a few tips that I’ve used to improve my reputation around the office, especially with the higher levels. But, as always, there can be many more that I missed.
If you have any additions, please feel free to add them in the comments.
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