There are very few professions that require zero human contact. Even if you’re shooting off emails instead of taking calls, building your communication skills and your ability to relate to other people is paramount to success.
As you look ahead to yet another productive and fruitful lap around the sun, consider setting your goals on building interpersonal skills. Though this type of resolution doesn’t feel as tangible since it’s difficult to measure, an overarching quest to better the way you interact with colleagues, clients, coworkers, and managers will deliver wins throughout the year.
From how you attract new talent to how well-liked you are in your professional network, remember, much of your ability to climb is rooted in the way you carry yourself and how you speak. If you need a bit of fodder to set these resolutions, try these suggestions from leading career experts.
Express gratitude to professional connections
Regardless of the season or the reason, a spirit of humility is never discounted. And hey, it doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving or trending on Instagram for you to let someone know how they’ve impacted your career. Challenging yourself to put it into words or to write it out is a healthy interpersonal resolution for 2019, according to career coach Judy Panagakos.
“Review professional connections and pinpoint people who taught you something, which at the time seemed minor, but was, in hindsight, quite significant. Contact them, and tell them your story,” she explains. “You will be expressing your gratitude and reconnecting with people who make things happen.”
If no one comes to mind right away, think back to your early career or even college. There were definitely mentors along the way who encouraged you, shared wisdom or gave you the first chance you needed.
Improve how you handle feedback
Though some careers are prone to constant constructive criticism — looking at your creative fields — others aren’t so schooled on receiving feedback. Career expert and author Lauren Berger explains even though it can be difficult to stomach, and especially to not take it personally, part of being a leader is understanding and acknowledging your weaknesses.
As you enter in a new quarter, Berger challenges professionals to evaluate how they handle it when a manager addresses area they can improve.
“Instead of looking at it like criticism, try looking at it like you have life’s biggest cheerleader next to you” constantly trying to take you under their wing and make you better. See if flipping the perspective is helpful,” she suggests.
Reach out one last time
Not everyone communicates in the same way, of course, but that extends digitally, too. As Panagakos explains, not everyone organizes their network the same way, so it’s important to approach various mediums to connections you want to make. This makes you more diverse and could lead to new business. That’s why she suggests a “one more time” approach to people who have left you hanging.
“There are people who very infrequently use LinkedIn, and if you have not connected with them, try a different channel to reach out. Early LinkedIn adopters sometimes have outdated email addresses recorded and don’t realize that you were trying to contact them,” she continues. “It is always nice to let someone know you are thinking of them and hope they are well, and a second outreach will yield additional contacts.”
Ask your boss about next steps
This might not feel inherently interpersonal, but Berger explains it is. How come? Well, it’s terrifying for most professionals to speak up and not only express what they want, but be diligent about how to get there.
“It’s not easy to take a deep breath, prepare your points, and have that conversation,” she explains. “Consider when you might do that this year. Have a plan and stick to it.”
You might need to practice your monologue in the mirror a few times before you get it right, but building this in-person confidence will help you make moves in the months to come.
Extend an invite to someone who makes you happy
Panagakos explains growing a network is great and valuable professionally, but sometimes you should be lighthearted about your approach. Or, rather, merely have a lunch with someone who makes you laugh. It might seem silly if they won’t lead to a new gig, a raise or another benefit, but really, having good vibes is never a bad idea.
“There are people in your network who give energy versus sapping it. Mutually recalling something funny that happened in the past, or that you stumble across now, is a great way to reach out to people where you are not seeking anything in return,” she explains.
Enhance a relationship inside the office
Yes, networking within your industry — or even beyond it — can lead to plenty of business deals and future work. But creating a healthy, reliable and well, fun, environment in your 9-to-5 is important, too.
Berger suggests “Strong work relationships can lead to stronger work performance. Who do you work with that you could have a better relationship with?”
“Try to establish that outside of the office through a joint workout class, a coffee date, a weekend hike, or something fun where you can get a better understanding of who they are and where they are coming from,” Berger suggests.
This small move could make it more seamless to get through tight deadlines and demanding periods throughout the year.