Save to Pocket
Office Life

Give your communication style a reality check

Self-Assessment Quiz ─ TRUE or FALSE:

  1. I think I’m a good listener at work, and that’s really the only skill I need to work well with my co-workers.
  2. I feel like my co-workers don’t know how to relate to me, and it makes me enjoy my job less and less.
  3. Getting my boss’s ear is a real challenge. I can’t seem to reach her. I’m worried about my annual review because she has no idea how hard I work.

Did you answer TRUE to all three self-assessment questions? If so, you can use a boost in the communication department. Here are some communication career-building tools that you can thank me for later.

If you haven’t already, I’m gonna need you to take notice of HOW you talk to people on the job. For some of you (Millennials, I’m talking to you), you might have this idea that if everyone wants so badly to get work done, then they better learn how to adapt to you and how you communicate. If you find yourself grumbling under your breath with, “I just SAID that! Why she makin’ me repeat myself?!?” then I’m gonna need you to take off your earphones and listen up for a reality check.

Back in 1943 (stay with me!), two women, Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers, created the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality test to help us all understand our differences and where we’re coming from, specifically related to personal motivations and group interactions. Their psychological questionnaire is still used today by corporations worldwide, from weekend team-building conferences to new hire on-board training. And for good reason. The test lets people know the type of personality you are and identifies the best way to reach you, and vice versa for your co-workers. Gold, right? So, if your co-worker Julia’s work personality is one where she prefers to be given information, be allowed to go off to her desk and work, and come back with a plan, you needling her in a meeting about her plan ain’t gonna make Julia a happy camper. Meaning, it would behoove you to have an awareness of Julia’s work personality. But how do you know what Julia’s personality is? How do you know how to effectively communicate with her personality style so that you’re not making her shut down rather than share? If you can’t take the MBTI to help, here are a few steps to take on your own:

  1. Stop – During your next meeting, if things seem a little tense or if it seems like you’re sort of being pushed out of the conversation or ignored, stop what you’re doing. Literally sit back (slowly, not defensively) and assess the situation. What’s going on in the meeting? Is Julia uber animated to the point where she’s perhaps, irritated or angry? Can you figure out why?
  2. Look – Watch for specific cues. If Julia gets defensive when you ask her a question, take a moment to recognize that she is defensive and try to rework your question in a way that starts with something like, “Julia, I see you’ve done so much great work here. Can you help me more with explaining what my role is in this project?”
  3. Listen – While Julia explains, do your best to listen to her. That means, while she’s talking, you’re not. Try not to interrupt her, even if it feels like she’s taking a long time to get her point across or if you’re excited to jump in! She will appreciate you giving her the time to speak.
  4. Repeat – Once Julia has finished talking, thank her for sharing and repeat what you’ve heard. In fact, repeat steps 1 – 4 until any sort of communication conflict has been resolved.

Communicating effectively IS about adapting to one another, but in a way that actually makes sense. You taking the time to be aware of your co-worker’s style and making changes like the above to meet them half-way (rather than you feeling like they should totally get you) will go a long way.

By the way, there are quite a few tests out there to help you get to know yourself and others so that in your next performance review, the little box that says, “Works well with others” will be checked off with a smiley face. Monster.com gives a great list here. Take a click!

Cheryl Grace is the sassy aunt, best friend, and mentor you’ve always needed in your life. The successful jet-setting, global corporate executive founded the aspirational lifestyle brand Powerful Penny LLC. Her products, workshops and speeches probe, inspire and empower to ensure those who really want to can get to their next level of best. Her blogs on careers, prosperity, relationships, family, looking and living fabulously, and living a five-star life can be found at www.powerfulpenny.com.

More from Ladders