Professional Workplace People Skills: Smart Communication

Of all the professional workplace people skills, also known as interpersonal skills or soft skills, communication is one that fuels or derails our journey to success. Our words and how people interpret them can determine the results we achieve and the future opportunities we are given.

A few communication smart steps create leaps in our professional workplace results: teamwork, leadership, customer service, and sales.

Words can woo or wound; create bonds not scars.

Culled from my experience with corporations and mid-size businesses, I offer you these 3 smart steps for successful workplace communication.

Professional People Skills: Smart Steps in Communication Image by:Kapungo

Misstep #1.
Stating someone’s intention as fact. “You are trying to …” Communication is headed for a dead end. The other person can simply say “No, I am not …” and the journey sidetracks into a defensive debate vs. moving forward to a valuable result.

Smart Step. State your intentions; ask about theirs. Remember, you cannot observe someone’s intentions nor can they see yours.
The people-skill lesson: Asking creates bonds. Assuming weakens them.

Misstep #2.
Using “because you” when negative emotion is possible. I witnessed a Sr. VP say to one of his VPs, “I don’t want to have to lay people off because you don’t know how to budget correctly.”

Smart Step. State the goal and the action needed. “I don’t want to have to lay people off. Please correct this budget item …” or “Let’s change this budget item so I don’t have to lay people off.”
The people-skill lesson: You can be clear and firm and still be respected. Don’t step on people with your communication; step with them.

Misstep #3.
Letting formality take precedence over connecting. Customer service and sales soar when you connect with customers their way. A new sales rep continued to call a customer “Mr. Hillard” after Mr. Hillard said “You can call me Bill.”

Smart Step. Listening is a sign of respect and care. Pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues to make the communication more than just an exchange of words.
The people-skill lesson: Communication does more than impart information for a purpose; it brings people together for current and future results.

Sales and customer service professionals quickly see the value of the bonds. Scars don’t close deals or build loyalty. Team members and leaders are learning with experience that creating bonds makes smart sense for their interaction as well.

Creating bonds is not a sign of weakness. It shows confidence, insight, and respect for something greater than yourself — the collective result.

What other smart communication steps will you share with us here? I welcome your suggestions, thoughts, and discussions in the comments field below. Add your voice!

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach delivers workshops and keynotes on teamwork, customer service/sales, and leading change across diverse industries and professions. She is well known for taking people from inspiration to action to improved results.

2 Responses to “Professional Workplace People Skills: Smart Communication”

  1. Words are very powerful.

    The higher up the ladder you go, the more power your words have. Leaders need to be sure to make sure they say what they mean and understand what they said. The two are not always mutually exclusive.

    When a senior leader gets upset and uses strong words, they reverberate through the organization and take on a life of their own. Like it or not. Good or bad.

    Once words escape your mouth, you can’t take them back.


  2. Bill Kreh says:

    My Observations:
    I do find it alarming when executives move up into management with limited or inferior skills in your “smart steps”. They ultimately stand on their own position power and diminish any interpersonal influence made available to them.

    I find executives with minimal communication skills usually have strong mentors or champions that overlook their weakness in exchange for some other talent they offer. Once you inflict scars, it becomes that much more difficult to build the bonds and thus continue to progress up the ladder.

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