As kids we start experimenting with language and ways to communicate from a very early age. We learn words, we learn movements that help those who are taking care of us understand what we are trying to communicate.
We later learn how to read and write and as time goes by, we find ourselves all grown up and entering the workforce.
Many have this predetermined vision in their head of what a professional setting looks like. When we go to that first interview, we scan the area, we see different faces and meet with different people.
Our ticket to book that interview was our resume and sometimes our introduction letter. We communicated in writing our potential and suitability for the job. If they liked what you wrote in those pieces of papers, then you get the opportunity to meet in person. Once the hiring committee has made their decision, you are invited to join their team.
At the interview, you showcased a certain confidence and capability that this is a job you can do. Once we start working, there are many tasks we really don’t know much about, this is where the “learning at the job” experience comes in.
Different workplaces have different unwritten rules of communication (or so we assume). In my personal experience, the engineering world is filled with mostly men with a few women in the workplace taking those technical positions.
To make things a bit simpler for us, we should be prepared with the appropriate communication skills to helps us succeed on this new endeavor. We want to make sure we communicate as authentically as possible in the work setting.
It may sound simple, but many of us forget about this basic rule of communication: Clarity. When we are asking questions, instead of “barking around the bushes”, we should be prepared to ask concise and direct questions.
This will help us get the answers we want more quickly, reducing frustration and making communication more effective.
As the amazing Dr. Brené Brown says:
Clear is Kind, unclear is unkind.
But what if you are asking direct questions and the person who is supposed to give you the answer you go off on a tangent and gets easily distracted?
We must remember that communication is a 2-way street. This is where this second strategy of communication comes in handy: learn what your co-worker’s communication style is.
What does this mean? Each one of us has a stronger “style” of communication versus other styles. Are you great at communicating through writing? Do you feel more comfortable speaking with people in person, or does a phone call work well for you?
Figure out what style works best for you and those you work with to help you get the answers you need. This will also help set the stage to succeed at work, because at the end “your career is your business” as my friend Libby Brouwer loves to say.
The last strategy I want to share today is to be OK with discomfort. Remember that in the workplace you are still interacting with human beings. This means that people may be uncomfortable with you showing up authentically.
Showcasing the full range of who you are could cause discomfort, as I speak from experience here. If showing up authentically and using your best communication style doesn’t work the way you expected, then there is a lesson there. Maybe this job is not meant to give you the flexibility of being who you truly are, so it helps you explore and find a new place where you will thrive!