Optimizing Communication in the Workplace: A Guide for Young Professionals

December 7, 2016 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

By Aaron Arvizu-Arguelles

Don’t text and drive. Keep your cellphone screen off at the movie theater. Apply silent mode to your cellphone when listening to a presentation. Don’t speak too loudly at church. Throughout your life, you have learned proper communication etiquette that allows you to have functioning social and personal relationships. Now, as you leave the comfort of your university’s zip code and enter the workforce, you must have a firm grasp of effective communication in the workplace. This guide presents a theory, its practice, and importance.

Strategizing early and often will lead to improvement

If you do play or have ever played sports, you probably had a coach who taught you the fundamentals in order for you to get acquainted with the activity. This coach or mentor, however, was not ubiquitous during all practices and games. His or her aim
was to get you to understand a particular process so that you could perform it on your own and self-improve based on your execution. This idea of learning, iterating, and improving is what drives the habit of continually refining communication skills ppvin the workplace. Allow me to tell you a story – In ninth grade, after an altercation with a student, I had the opportunity of speaking with the school’s intimidating vice principal. The interaction taught me how to properly introduce myself to those in positions of authority and when to speak. As the tall, lanky middle-aged vice principal listened to my side of the story, he nodded his head while firmly holding a clipboard to his chest. He interrupted me before I could finish, yet I attempted to continue. The interruption had apparently meant my turn to speak was over and his began. As I walked away from the conversation, I thought about student-faculty communication. Through experience, I learned to add these skills – ceding word to superiors and exhibiting patience – to my communication arsenal and use them in the future. For example, when I encountered similar authority figures, such as vice principals, I knew how to handle myself. The Preparation, Importance, and Versatility (PPV) strategy to effective communication in the workplace requires you to use the same intuition because you must perpetually develop communication skills as your career develops.

How does PPV work?

Preparation, Poise, and Versatility (PPV) intends to establish a habit in your routine. This habit starts with the art of preparation. As a young professional, opportunities to communicate with colleagues, management, and customers, are incredibly diverse. As such, you must always be ready for what your day presents. Let’s assume you’re taking part in a department-wide meeting which features a regional director.

  • Preparation: This meeting could present various communication opportunities, such as a quick introduction and handshake or a cold call in the middle of the presentation, requiring you to present a well-formed response. As you prepare for this meeting, emphasize all conceivable avenues of communication with the regional director and other attendees. Specifically, researching the director’s educational and professional backgrounds, as well as his contributions to the current company project, may be helpful in establishing rapport with him. Other examples of preparation for this meeting could include: 1) researching cultural background of regional director, 2) preparing a response to documents sent to attendees before the meeting, and 3) composing a plan that solves the problem at hand.
  • Poise: I have heard the following from multiple men and women: confidence is the most attractive feature in a partner. You don’t want to seem nervous or out-of-control during a first date, right? Likewise, you must hold your physical and mental composure when communicating in the workplace. As a young professional, a disposition with heavy doses of evident self-assurance enables you to demonstrate strong communication skills. Using the above example, when attending the meeting, remain mentally prepared for the potential encounter with the director so that you’re not caught off guard. During the encounter, follow proper professional etiquette and have the belief that you are the most important person in the room as you speak. This does not mean to display arrogance–rather demonstrate comfort with the situation and willingness to participate in challenging professional scenarios.
  • Versatility: Every opportunity to communicate in the workplace as a young professional is different. As such, you must be willing to adapt to each scenario and apply different communication strategies. The above mentioned meeting is ambiguous in that you’re not aware of the director’s expectations. If he or she wishes to see the quick-thinking of his recent hires, he or she may instruct you to lead the meeting. In this case, you must be flexible and adapt to the situation, understanding how you must use what you have prepared or how you may need to adjust prepared material. Flexibility when dealing with a communication opportunity allows you to successfully accomplish job objects while validating your credentials as a worthy employee.

Why should this matter to you?

The transition from academic to professional life poses various challenges with differing solutions. Figuring out how to communicate effectively enables a young professional to effectively launch a successful career. That is, as you start to move up the corporate ladder, differentiating your skills and results will propel you to new heights. If you’re able to display a robust competence in communicating with others through any medium and under any circumstance, your peers will have a more positive perspective of your abilities and reputation.

PPV relies on self-awareness and self-motivation. Assuming you don’t have Barack Obama’s orating skills or Kevin Spacey’s quick-thinking, you can always improve your communication effectiveness. PPV implores young professionals to exhaust preparation for potential communication opportunities to: 1) better display knowledge of the subject to others and 2) feel more comfortable and be poised. Preparation facilitates the idea of poise and versatility. After a particular communication opportunity, such as meeting with your regional director or giving an elevator speech to your manager, you must use the results and feedback from the encounter and use them when preparing for another opportunity. The repetition of this process catalyzes positive habits in your routine when communicating in the workplace.

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Entry filed under: Interpersonal, Leadership Communication.

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