In my work as a presentation and public speaking coach, I meet a lot of people, working across a huge range of roles and industries, and through them, I hear all sorts of anecdotes set in the workplace. This gives me some really interesting insights into the ways people behave at work and around their colleagues, but more importantly, how effectively (or ineffectively!) they communicate with those around them.
One such acquaintance is in the IT industry, where he works as a senior project manager, at the helm of seven and eight-figure budgets. As we support the same football club, we often attend matches together and chat about work, which he explains to me in his trademark blunt Scottish manner.
One day, over a pre-match beer, he said to me, “Ya see, the problem is I’ve got a bunch of business analysts that willnae talk to anyone!” After I had choked on my beverage at the hilarity of this sardonic declaration, I gave it some thought.
He may well have been exaggerating slightly, but his point was relevant. His business analysts, whose job it was to gather qualitative data about a business and its operations, were conducting their roles entirely via email.
The Danger of Silence
I am of the firm belief that the most detrimental conversations in the business world are the ones that don’t take place. People I give coaching to know how strongly I advocate speaking with colleagues, and finding opportunities to have conversations with them.
Having these conversations with people helps to raise your professional profile, and is integral to building solid, meaningful working relationships, sharing crucial ideas and transferring important information. The key to success lies is finding a way to make your communications count.
With this in problem in mind, I set about devising a solution that would help people focus on their objectives and take part in conversations that got straight to the core of the issue and reaped some worthwhile information. If you struggle to make your communications as effective as you need them to be, consider the answers to these 4 key questions. Doing so will help you to unlock your inner business voice and have more authentic conversations.
Where are you most influential at work?
There is a difference between influence and persuasion, and in this context, it is about considering your natural capacity to influence others.
Disregard times that you have consciously approached people with an agenda and managed to bring them around to it. What we are looking for here is times that you garner the support of others without trying, and then break down your behaviours to identify exactly what it is that you do that influences people.
Which situations most commonly lead to deadlock?
We’ve all been there: those situations where you’re dealing with someone who just isn’t compatible with you and nothing seems to get worked through or completed.
The solution isn’t a quick fix, but it is important to try adjusting your approach, and it can take time to find a style that alleviates the problems. Consider what is going on from the other person’s perspective and allow this to guide your changes in approach.
What happens when you’re thrown in the deep end?
Do you ever feel like you’re being listened to but not really ‘heard’? It can be frustrating, but start by considering whether your intention is always clear from your characteristics? The intention you start out with is carried through your body language, tone and words, and if these elements aren’t cooperating, you need to think about why.
Often, when you’re put in a work situation you aren’t very practiced or confident in, succeeding is simply a case of adjusting your approach just slightly. Put your content on the backburner, and give attention to the way you are going to affect your audience.
Who do you know who always makes an impact?
Being impactful in the workplace doesn’t necessarily require charisma or assertiveness. Take some time to observe people whose impact you admire and consider what they are doing, rather than how they are doing it. But don’t get bogged down in chasing influences, as this can lead to unhealthy fixations on perfection.
What you’re after is the right balance of the natural you, and the positive behaviours adopted from those whose work you’ve observed.
Unlocking your business voice may seem like cause for complete transformation in every aspect of your working life, but you may be surprised at how often it really comes down to making small but significant adjustments. From making your mark on a company, living up to your professional potential, or simply asserting yourself more effectively, uncovering that business voice that we all have is perfectly achievable.
Once you get that ball rolling, you’ll be surprised at how far this new ability reaches in every facet of work.