Want to be a strong team player? Harness your soft skills.
Soft skills – and in particular communication and emotional intelligence – tend to get pushed to the side; ignored; overlooked; laughed at.
Who would REALLY need to ‘learn’ about those skills … because when push comes to shove, you could just wing them right?
Once you graduate and enter the workplace you …
a) Can’t simply have a disagreement with someone in a group project and hope to ‘never see them again’.
b) Can’t ignore a less-than-pleasant email because you don’t know the best way to respond.
c) Will need to know how to use social awareness to actively read conversations + situations to effectively contribute to a positive work environment.
If that last point went over your head … then I want you to really focus during this month! Because being a solid employee is more than simply bringing your hard talents and skills to the table.
Let’s look at a few ways we can harness our emotional intelligence and communication to become stronger team players (and leaders) as we move through our careers.
1 // Limit snap responses. Instead, take a breath and count to 3.
It’s handy to remember that all emotions are fleeting. So if you find yourself annoyed, irritated or frustrated with a task, colleague, boss or client – take a breath and count to 3!
By taking a second to check in with yourself, you won’t be making rash decisions based on intense emotions … which can harm your relationships and work ethic!
2 // Accept that stress is a part of every job.
While there is a difference between feeling on-edge, flighty and anxious for the majority of your day … feelings of stress will come and go during your career!
You can’t control every situation or outcome. Understanding and accepting this will allow you to remain level-headed in tense situations!
3 // Practice active listening.
As simple as it sounds, the ability to actively listen is a skill that is few and far between! Those who are speaking can generally tell if you are tuned ‘in’ or tuned ‘out’.
In terms of forming relationships and maintaining them – active listening is paramount. Plus. Do you really want to be asking your boss to re-explain your task 3 times because you were daydreaming about your weekend plans?
4 // How you respond to others, is a reflection of your EQ.
A huge part of workplace communications is the exchange that happens between colleagues/peers. How you respond to them will have a ripple effect on your relationship with them.
A few things to consider:
- Do you give others the chance to share their ideas?
- Do you acknowledge their input (rather than just waiting to jump in with your own ideas)?
- When giving constructive feedback, do you acknowledge the effort that has been made?
5 // Empathy helps the positive flow of office dynamics.
While some argue that you need to become hard to be a #boss … we think that having empathy goes hand in hand with being a leader!
If you genuinely make an effort to see a problem/statement from another person’s point of view, it will go a long way in the boardroom. This is particularly helpful when diffusing tense situations … whether they’re in person, via email or over the phone.
Using the following phrases (in the correct context) will strengthen your relationships at work and also indicate that you are considering and listening to the feelings and opinions of others:
- “Let me try to paraphrase and summarise what you’re saying. You’re saying…”
- “I want to make sure I understand…”
- “What do you need right now?”