I distinctly remember the shame of being seen sitting on the floor in the hall outside of Mrs. McNorton’s room at Dean Road Elementary in Auburn, Alabama. I sat in that hall more times than I care to remember. You see, I had a hard time controlling my mouth. If I had something to say to another child in my class, I couldn’t resist the urge to say it when it popped into my mind. Today, I would probably be diagnosed with ADD or Impulsivity or heaven knows what else. What I found over the years of elementary school, junior high and then high school was that 9 times out of 10 if I was in trouble with a teacher, it was because of talking when I was supposed to be quiet. I still struggle with blurting my thoughts when I am supposed to be quiet. It comes to down to self-control. I am much better than I was in school. I have learned to write my thoughts and share them at the appropriate time. To be honest, I have made a career out of talking and helping others talk more effectively! I turned my biggest flaw into a career! Is that not ironic? How is that working for me? It is working beautifully and the best part is there is not a day that I wake up dreading going to work. I am truly doing what I was meant to do in life. What about you?
I was working with a long-time client when he blurted out “if I had known then what I know now I would have approached my job in a different way!”. I asked him to elaborate. He began to share that what he has learned from our year of coaching in effective communication skills has taught him that being successful at your profession has more to do with communicating than the expertise you possess. Those are strong words! My client is a highly educated, technically minded professional working in a very large company. He has been successful by most standards. We both know that his career could have gone in a different management direction a few years ago. We began to discuss the cold, hard fact that business success isn’t derived from working hard and making your boss successful anymore. That is an old notion that has gone the way of electric typewriters! With a tighter job market, if you are hired by a company then the company is fairly confident of your knowledge and ability to do the job. What you need to know is that from here on, it’s about your ability to communicate with others and who you know. After my conversation with my client, I developed a list of tips based on comments I have heard from my seasoned clients regarding what they wish they had known when they embarked on their career.
* Get the communication skills training/coaching that you need
* If you don’t know what you need, ask for feedback
* Develop excellent presentation skills
* Understand your company’s politics
* Know who holds the power in your company
* Get to know others in your company
* “Brown nosing” is simply looking for opportunities
* Be generous
* Pay attention to your non-verbal communication
* Go to company gatherings and interact with the people who attend