- Listen. We all need to spend WAY less time talking and A LOT more time listening. And I don’t mean just keeping your mouth shut for the sake of keeping it shut. I mean really listening. Listen to what’s being said, and what isn’t. Listen for clues about office culture and politics. Listen for instructions about how to do your job best. Listen for ways you can add value beyond your job description.
- Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, if you don’t know the deadline, if you don’t have a crystal clear picture of what is expected of you, then you need to be asking some questions. You are the only person responsible for your success, and if you don’t know how “work gets done” in your organization you will not be as successful as you could be. Asking questions shows you are engaged in the conversation, that you care about what’s going on around you and that you are interested in opinions other than your own. I’m not suggesting you become an interrogator or ask questions just for the sake of having something to say. All I’m saying is seek clarity when necessary and show an interest in what’s going on around you.
- Learn email etiquette. Never EVER put something in an email that you wouldn’t want displayed prominently on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper or forwarded to your mother. Your work email address is not private or personal. Email generally isn’t the best place to send paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of information. Send the supporting documentation as an attachment. The best messages are succinct and leave little room for misinterpretation. Remember, you only have the written word – no hand gestures or tone of voice – to convey your message.
- Prof reed evrything twyce. Nuf saed. Are those numbers accurate? Is there a typo in the first sentence or anywhere for that matter? Is there a gaping hole where you meant to fill in more information later? Spell check doesn’t catch words that are spelled properly but in the wrong place. It also doesn’t catch words that are inadvertently left out. Errors impact your reputation – even the small ones. Ask someone to review your documents, re-read your email before you hit send, and send yourself a preview copy to check links and formatting.
- Know your supervisor’s style. How does your boss prefer communication from you? Is it OK to interrupt her day with questions or do you need to get on her calendar? Can you send him an email or would he prefer a conversation? Does she like lots and lots of details or does she prefer an executive summary? You will be more successful – in every area of your life – when you communicate with people the way THEY want to be communicated with.
- Say “Thank you.” It’s amazing to me how many people don’t even say thank you, much less show other forms of appreciation. Say it often in the moment when it matters most. Go the extra mile and send handwritten thank-you notes as often as you can.
- Network. Knowing how to network is a game changer, and it’s not about having the most business cards or LinkedIn connections. It is about having real relationships with real people and helping others achieve their goals whenever you can. The key to networking is being focused on the other person first: listen, ask good questions and make connections whenever you can.
- Don’t be that guy/girl. Please remember that you don’t know everything. Everyone has something to share. Everyone. You can learn something from every person you come into contact with, but only if you intentionally seek that knowledge. Don’t be the person that looks down on others; be the guy/girl who lifts others up, no matter where they are are life.
- READ. When I say read, I mean read everything you can get your hands on. Knowledge is power. Read to learn. Read for fun. Read fiction. Read magazines. Read blogs. Basically, read as often as you can. You’ll be a better conversationalist, you’ll be a better writer and you’ll be an even bigger asset to your organization.