A Subtle Reminder of the Significance of Soft Skills

By Lauren Moody

We must not underestimate the importance of communication. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. Heading into the internship with no corporate background, I did not know what to expect. However, as soon as I figured out how the company’s complex matrix worked and the communication style it used, everything seemed to gel much quicker. Every company is different, and one must research its communication style based on its website and by interacting with its employees via LinkedIn or information sessions. This post provides insights to communicating in a corporate environment and highlights the importance of: listening, thinking, and speaking, working with a team, and adapting to every environment.

In today’s business world, we rely on the ability to understand numbers and obtain a multifaceted number of technological skills, but people often underestimate the power of soft skills. Soft skills are personal characteristics that enable someone to connect with others in an effective way. They are everyday activities in a work setting, ranging from sending a clear and concise email to presenting in front of a board room or a crowd. The way one communicates affects how others perceive their information and determines whether their message is delivered in the most coherent fashion. According to a Harvard research study, 85 percent of job success comes from having the soft skills necessary to relate to others, whereas only 15 percent comes from hard skills such as technical and knowledge.

Listen, Think, Speak

Something that we often overlook: listening is the key to holding a relatable conversation. Listening is more than hearing something, it’s being able to understand and interpret what that person is saying. In every setting, listening enables us to understand people’s need and wants. In fact, good listening leads to overall business success, from employee and customer satisfaction to more creativity. It is an engaging process, as the listener utilizes both verbal and nonverbal body language to portray their concentration and interest in the speaker.

Maximize Your Ability to Work with a Team

As the world’s leading sports athletic wear company, Nike emphasizes teamwork throughout every department. Every work setting requires the ability to work with others. During the summer, I had the opportunity to listen to Stephanie Strack, Vice President of Nike Express Lane, and she said the ability to bring out the best in others is a crucial requirement to success. In order to do this, you must understand others’ needs (through listening) but also through clear communication. While speaking with the Vice President of Global Sales, Mike Best, I learned that he sends a weekly reminder to his teams that clearly outlines their goals. This weekly reminder illustrates both his individual team’s goal and the company’s goal, while also uniting the team towards its common goal

Stay Agile and Adapt

“Stay open. Stay agile and adaptable.” – John Hoke, VP Global Design

In order to maximize your role’s impact, you must be able to conform to each role and task you are faced with. Things may not always go as planned, and you define yourself by how you react to each situation. A workplace makes changes rapidly and requires its workers to adopt the same mentality. Whether encountering a new update in technology or relaying a difficult message, understand what requirements are necessary and take the most appropriate approach.

Despite all the technological innovations of today, we must remember the importance of personal interactions and relationships are necessary. With practice, you will see overall improvements in your career and personal life. Prioritize listening in order to understand others, leading to better team work, and remain adaptable to every situation. What may seem small ultimately plays a large importance and determines the strength of your impact.

Image Credit: http://www.nationalsoftskills.org/the-soft-skills-disconnect

 

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November 4, 2017 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Reporters and CEOs: More Alike Than You Would Think

By Ryan Haar

As a journalist recently entering the world of business writing, I’ve learned that good journalistic writing and good business writing share many of the same characteristics. Breaking news stories and interdepartmental emails may seem like they would have nothing in common, but in reality they both share tenants of basic writing that are important for any businessperson to know. 

Make your headline catchy

When you’re flipping through the morning paper, what makes you stop and decide to read a story? The headline, of course. Reporters and editors spend a significant amount of time coming up with eye-catching headlines. Consider this fact when you’re writing the “headline” for a business piece. Maybe your headline is the subject of an important email, the title of a finance report, or the tagline of your sales pitch. Make your headline stick and stand out to whomever is reading or hearing it. In addition, headlines aren’t just catchy phrases given to a body of text, but they actually convey important information pertaining to the story. Likewise, pick your business headline with what you are attempting to convey in mind. Do you have a main point, a call to action, or an important fact that is the focus of your writing? If so, weave that piece into your headline so that your readers are clear on what you are about to say.

Use a nut graf

In a news piece, the nut graf is the first sentence or two of the piece that quickly states the most important facts. If  readers were to only read the headline and the nut graf of a story, they would have the main gist of what had happened. For instance, whenever I write a news story, my nut graf answers the five W’s and one H: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Similarly, a business communication should have its own nut graf, or agenda. The agenda serves the same purpose as a nut graf by telling the reader the important facts or information to be covered. If  readers stopped reading after the agenda, they would at least know the main points of your message.  An agenda should be concise and not over-explain the details of your message.  You can find space for in-depth explanation in the body of the writing.

Back up your ideas

All good journalists verify their writing with facts from sources and quotes. In the body of your message, you have the time and space to go deeper into your points, explain your position, and back up your information with facts and sources of your own. What if you were reading the paper and a journalist made an absurd claim like, “the mayor murdered his wife,” and instead of citing a source the journalist just wrote “trust me” at the end? You would throw that paper in the garbage, and the journalist would be fired. The claims you make in your business writing need to be backed up so your audience can, in fact, trust your statements. Your facts could be data, visuals such as charts and graphs, pictures, or anything that helps prove your point. Facts are especially important when you’re trying to persuade a group or person to do something.

Watch for grammar and sentence structure

Business people may not have a copy editor slashing through their grammar mistakes in red ink, but grammar is still important. Having improper grammar can make a piece painful to read and is super distracting from the message that you’re trying to present. Follow correct grammar rules and add strength to your writing by checking for passive voice, false subjects, to-be verbs, and commonly misused words. One of the trickiest grammar changes for me to remember when switching from journalistic writing to business writing was that business people actually use and like the Oxford comma! The sight of an Oxford comma is enough to make journalists everywhere cringe.

Use appropriate tone

Journalists always take into account their audience and subject when they choose what tone to write with. News stories are usually cut and dried and summarize what happened. Features stories may take on different tones depending on who/what they are about. For instance, a feature on a beloved grade-school teacher would differ from a feature on a CEO, which would differ from a feature on a local business. Opinion pieces usually try to persuade a reader to think in a certain way, which changes tone yet again.  All of these situations are the same for writing a business communication. You must consider your audience. Are you writing to your boss or another higher-level official? Then you might want to use a more formal tone than when writing to your office buddy. Consider company culture when writing to an outside company. An email to Bumble will sound a lot different than an email to Deloitte. Subject is another important factor when deciding what tone to use. A good-news message usually has a brief intro before delving into the message whereas a bad-news message should have a little more initial padding to allow readers to condition their minds for the coming bad news. Persuasive messages have more explanation of facts and processes and always have a call to action at the end. Consider all of these factors before writing

Have an effective visual

Usually the most eye-catching part of the front page of a newspaper is a picture. Pictures and visuals help to break up the text and draw reader’s eyes. Use this tip to your advantage in business writing by effectively employing visuals to convey important information. People are more likely to look at the visuals than to read everything you have written word for word. Graphs, charts, graphics, pictures, tables, and artwork are all useful tools when creating an effective document design.

Look to your local newspaper for some inspiration the next time you’re at a loss for what to write in your report or email. All good writing shares the same basic factors, and once you get those under your belt you’ll have a jump start at writing successfully in any style!

October 26, 2017 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

The Sponge: Soft-Skill Savvy

By Conor Lynch

Sometimes, you need more than results. As human beings, we are creatures who enjoy and thrive off of social interactions. In today’s modern business world, we need “soft skills.” Whereas hard skills show a more typical measure of job performance, sales figures for example, soft skills exemplify your ability to connect with the humans around you.

Having tangible soft skills means understanding four communication skills. Four key communication skills are listening, thinking, nonverbal responding, and flexible speaking. Understanding the interaction of the four skills when creating meaningful conversation turns you into a sponge. In this metaphor, a sponge takes in limitless information, squeezes out everything unnecessary, leaves “bubbles” behind, and shows flexibility.

Active Listening

smiley_face_sponge_shapeListening is not the same as hearing: a common misconception. Listening is understanding what you’re being told and communicating to the person talking that you’re hearing. When in a meeting, typically one person leads the discussion. We’ve all been in that position, taking a moment to look around when speaking and realizing that most people in the room fail to pay attention to a word you are saying. Understanding proper active listening will lead to better conversations within a business environment. To improve my ability in listening, I’ve made it my goal to immediately write down as many details from a conversation as I can; the more I write the better I listen. Following my writings is an easy way to track progress towards a goal. Step one in becoming a sponge is absorbing as much information as possible.

Critical Thinking

Now that you have begun listening to provided information, next think critically about what the information means to you. Generally, information is passed for a reason. Figure out what value that information has to you. Does it impact your company? Do you need to change the way you do your job? While these questions may seem big, you may find the answers in minor adjustments to your normal business routine. Sometimes a small change leads to monumental improvement. To improve this skill, I’ve built upon my note taking in the listening section; I try to identify the key points of that conversation that I’ve written about and see what conclusions I can draw from the information. For example, I’ve found after listening to a class lecture, the best way to improve retention is to think about everything discussed to get to the key points. Step two in becoming a sponge is to squeeze out all the unnecessary information.

Nonverbal Responses

How many times have we been looking around the room giving a speech and gotten the impression that everyone else would rather be anywhere else but here? We’ve all been there. For everyone involved, we must ensure that our body language is engaging to those who are speaking. Some options for body language include sitting up straight, providing visual feedback, showing interest, and maintaining an open body posture. These are common ways that businesspeople try to communicate that they are engaged and receptive to what is being discussed. To improve this skill, I’m working on actively thinking about my posture. By keeping that thought active in my mind, I hope that eventually it will become a habit and automatic, rather than forced and considered. When I gave a presentation last month, I noticed a person in the back of the room who would smile at me whenever I looked that person’s way, indicating interest and listening skills. From my perspective, as the presenter, that listening provides encouragement that leads to a better job presenting. The third step in becoming a sponge is to leave “bubbles”–the memory of your nonverbal interaction.

Flexible Speaking

Many factors go into being a good communicator, including what most people think of: understanding how and when to speak. Nothing is more important in conversation than understanding the context. In addition, understanding the effects of breathing, vocal volume, and tone can greatly enhance the value of your conversations for both you and those that you are conversing with. Mastering these concepts makes it easier to create emphasis and clarity within a conversation. To work on my speaking ability, I’m focusing on my inflection and practicing in my spare time to give myself a better ability to portray multiple messages. Perhaps the leading example of a great speaker in recent years is President Obama. He has shown diversity in his speaking tone over the past few years: confident and bold when triumphant, stern and rigid when necessary, and tender and delicate when dealing with tragedy. Just watching a few of his famous speeches of over the years, I see why he’s one of the best orators of our time. To complete the process of becoming a soft-skill sponge, be flexible. Just like a sponge can squeeze its way into any nook or cranny, your speaking ability should be able to respond effectively to any situation and use the tone necessary to convey your message.

In today’s business world, results are not just about the numbers and goals; success is about how effectively you communicate and understand those around you. Improving your soft skills can majorly impact your future in the business world. Think about becoming a sponge: absorb information, squeeze everything unnecessary out, leave behind positive interactions, and be flexible enough to perform any communication effectively. If all four of those skills come to a sponge without any trouble, with practice, anyone else can acquire them too.

December 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Making Your Resume Stand Out: Tips for College Students

By Brian Schmid

Resumes intimidate many college students. No single instruction or format exists for a perfect resume, and effective resumes don’t all look the same. A clean, professional resume can earn a candidate in the middle of the pack an interview, and a bad one can stop even the most competitive individual’s job search dead in its tracks.

My resume from high school almost embarrasses me – not because of the information but because of way I structured it. My unprofessional resume probably cost me early internship and work opportunities, and my current resume looks almost unrecognizable compared to my high school resume.

I’d like to share three tips I’ve picked up to create a strong resume and set yourself apart from the crowd: format with a message in mind, build better bullets, and tailor your experience.

brian

Format with a Message in Mind

The vast majority of my interviews have started with the same question: “Walk me through your resume.” While having a clear and concise answer to this question is vital, you can really set yourself apart by formatting your resume with this question in mind.

Place the most important section at the top of the resume. For most college students recruiting for internships or full-time positions, the top should be education followed by work experience.

Order gets a little grayer after education and work experience. I have a section on leadership, a section on extracurricular activities, and a short section on relevant skills. However, each person’s resume will be different depending on their experiences and things they’d like to emphasize. Academics may have a list of their published works, while independent consultants may have names of companies they’ve assisted.

Highlight key points in your work experience and extracurricular activities that will send a cohesive message. If you’re looking for a position in auditing and you’ve served as a treasurer or financial manager in multiple organizations, then highlight that experience every time it occurred. It reinforces your qualifications to the recruiter as he or she skims your resume. I’ll cover the challenge of finding the best way to highlight your work experience next.

Build Better Bullets

Bullet points comprise the majority of space on a resume, so you should pay close attention to best practices when creating yours. Here’s an example of the difference good bullet points can make:

Bad

  • Employee of the month (2x)

Good

  • Recognized twice as a STAR employee – top 5% of sales force

See the difference? The second bullet point is significantly more clear. Not only does it show that you were recognized twice for performance, it lays out the exact requirements you achieved. In addition, it starts off with a verb, making the recognition more active and action-oriented. Making every bullet point action-oriented will make the list parallel.

Bullet points should always be as specific as possible, preferably utilizing hard numbers or percentages to denote increases or decreases. I generally use three bullet points per position or job, but no hard and fast rule exists – just make sure that no one position has too many bullet points, or it will look awkward on the page.

Tailor Your Experience

Tailoring your experience is extremely important. Any job or extracurricular position has many facets, and even more ways in which you can describe those discrete parts of your experience. Therefore, you should never apply to a new position with the same resume. Go through your resume with a fine-tooth comb and adjust your wording, experience, or bullet points to the position you’re applying for. For instance, if you completed an internship at the finance department in a global logistics form, another logistics firm would care deeply about your logistics experience, while an investment bank would care more about your financial modeling experience. You can tailor and target your resume towards each industry and position. For instance, let’s look at structuring a bullet point differently for consulting versus investment banking

Consulting

  • Created recommendations that improved overall kitchen throughput by 15%

Investment Banking

  • Created a dynamic Excel model that tracked all ingredients by date and type

See the difference? Both bullet points are about an individual creating a program that tracks ingredients in a restaurant, but the consulting bullet focuses on what you did with the data, while the investment banking bullet focuses on how you generated the data.

I recommend creating a master resume listing all of your experience, skills, awards, and education and adding to it over time. This list will probably be many pages long. When it comes time to apply for a position, you can use this master copy as a reference and effectively leverage your experience and resume to get an interview.

Creating a resume can be an intimidating part of the recruiting process, but attention to detail and effort in this process will pay dividends in the long run. Remember, if you format with a message in mind, create action-oriented bullets, and tailor your resume to the position, your resume will be heading towards the head of the pack.

For more excellent tips on resume creation and interview preparation, check out some of our other articles in the Job-Search Communication category.

December 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Optimizing Communication in the Workplace: A Guide for Young Professionals

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.

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

The Power of Empathy

By Brian Kim

The typical traits that attract recruiters during a student’s job search process are the drive for success, competitiveness, and individualism. However, these characteristics sometimes tend to stray us away from an essential human value– the importance of caring for others. In this highly automated business world reliant upon numbers and results, we can easily forget that business is about human interaction. All of us live and experience our own, individualized world, but we forget that others also have their own world of experiences. Respecting this idea is an essential task for all of us. Therefore, what can we do to keep our humanity alive while staying competitive?

Communication is a two-way street– actively listening and understanding someone is just as important as sending a good message. Showing that you are truly interested in another’s message is astounding. It shows that you care, and you’ll strengthen the bond between you and others.

Failure to connect. As a young high school student trying to start a computer class for the Korean elderly, I had a fear that our age and cultural gap would prevent effective communication. Unfortunately, my intuition was proven right during our organization’s first few months of operation. Frustration constantly built up between the student volunteers and adults as we struggled to teach intricate subjects that were nothing but gibberish for those in their 70s and 80s. To understand the issue, I dedicated a few hours to discuss the problems with the adults.

It turned out most of the adults came to our classes for fun. I was surprised to hear that they just “wanted to feel young again” in a classroom environment and “liked the idea of having a community to join every weekend.” We were simply missing the point of these weekly classes; we only cared about what we wanted to teach and had little interest in what our students came for.

kimPost-realization. We quickly switched gears after the feedback—we scrapped the boring materials that no one cared about and started one-on-one style lessons. The volunteers walked around to make casual conversation with the adults while answering any specific computer questions catered to each person. Business boomed, local newspapers loved us, and volunteers and elders started flocking in. Our organization stayed strong for the last six years because we listened to and cared for our customers.

Lessons. When you become the leader or manager of an organization, you most likely achieved that position with a clear goal in mind. This tenacity can make opening up to new ideas much more difficult. Like I mentioned earlier, business isn’t about sending a message—it’s an interaction between people. Leaders, employees, and clients should communicate to understand each other’s thoughts and priorities. Once ideas click together, everyone will be on the same page and succeed more easily.news

As college students, many of us have spent much of our lives comparing, competing, and judging others. We aren’t at fault here; the world is increasingly cutthroat and thinking about the future is a scary thought. However, we can still learn to be both successful and mindful of others as these two traits work in conjunction with each other.

We always rely on each other and prosper as a community. We should, of course, distinguish personal and business lives, but that doesn’t mean that we should lose empathy for others depending on the occasion. If you truly put in your work for others, success can follow soon enough. Let’s learn to thrive by listening, caring, and loving ourselves and everyone else around us.

November 11, 2016 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

5 Powerful Ways to Turn Introverts into Top Performers

By Joe Pantuso

Throughout my life, I’ve heard others talk about introverts in a negative manner, speaking as though something is wrong with them: Why does he need so much alone time? Why is she so quiet? What are you always thinking about when you stare off into the distance rather than talking to me? What’s wrong with you?

There’s a one in three chance you’re an introvert. I am an introvert.

Introverts play an important role in our world; however, because we live in an extrovert’s world—loud, confidence-led—you might not even know what it means to be an introvert. You might think you’re alone in an introverted existence. You might even think of introversion as a hindrance, which is just not true.

Introverts like to keep a low profile. We’re often quiet, but not all of us are shy. We may avoid anything that remotely approaches conflict. However, introverts possess positive qualities that make us valuable employees. We like to think through things before we take action. We’re analytical by nature, and we listen to understand. We actually do enjoy social interaction and attention, but in a way that is different from extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from large social gatherings, while introverts prefer smaller settings.

Being an introvert has advantages. For example, in classroom discussions, I am engaged but slow to contribute. I hesitate because I want people to think that I have thought through my responses before speaking. As a result, when I do participate, my contributions are typically both accurate and valuable.

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, up to 50 percent of all employees are introverts. Susan has started a movement called The Quiet Revolution, which celebrates and empowers introverts to embrace their quiet power. As a business leader, you ought to enable the full potential of all your employees. Leaders must ensure introverts that they have opportunities to become top performers and that they won’t be ignored in favor of their louder, more extroverted counterparts.

quietSusan Cain’s Quiet Leadership Institute helps companies and organizations empower their introverted employees by training both introverts and extroverts to communicate in a way that enhances everyone’s ability to work together. This research inspired me to create the Q.U.I.E.T. guidelines to address the needs of introverted employees.

Qualify interruptions. Reducing unnecessary interruptions will help introverted employees consistently perform at higher levels. Distractions overwhelm introverts, who are sensitive to interruptions. In the workplace, interruptions are frequent. Workers may take up to 25 minutes to get back on track when interrupted. Try to avoid interrupting your employees’ workflows unless absolutely necessary and encourage your people to avoid interrupting one another.

As an introvert, I understand the correlation between distractions and performance. I lose focus and patience when interrupted. Disruptions cause me to become irritated and aggravated, and, as a result, I become less efficient.

Utilize quiet space. According to research, 90 percent of workers say they need quiet, private places to do their work; however, more than 40 percent of workers report that they don’t have them in their workplaces. Employees, especially introverted ones, struggle to focus when the environment is noisy or coworkers are loud and rowdy. Help improve performance by providing quiet work areas where introverts can easily focus without distractions.

Today, open-plan offices are common in business. The open-office model promotes large open spaces, shared work areas, and few private offices. Despite their popularity, open-plan offices create huge problems by making work difficult for introverts. The environment damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. This trend is negatively impacting the workplace.

Implement environment controls. Introverted employees are sensitive to their surroundings, and, therefore, must be able to control their environment. Noise, light, and the temperature are external factors that may affect introverts. When possible, allow introverts to change or modify their environment. Examples include light dimmers or desk lamps and thermostats or windows that open.

Establish a safe place. Establish a psychologically safe place to work for introverts. Open-office environments are not ideal for introverts because these environments tend to make them feel like the center of attention. Introverts may think that their coworkers are scrutinizing them. This scrutiny makes them anxious and uncomfortable and reduces their ability to focus and be productive. One must provide work places where others cannot constantly observe and scrutinize introverts.

I understand the value of a safe and private place to work. When I perceive others judging me, I feel self-conscious. This perception is a distraction that creates anxiety, reducing my performance and limiting my productivity.

Tolerate independence. Introverted employees work differently than extroverted ones and often need solitude during the workday. Give them permission to be alone. Solitude helps them to think more thoroughly and focus more intently on their work while mentally preparing for social interactions with customers, vendors, and coworkers. Allow introverts alone time without fear of penalty so they can function effectively.

Society expects everyone to speak up, compare experiences, and to socialize. These interactions can be difficult for introverts, who would rather spend their time alone. There is no shame in preferring solitude to socializing. We can only truly be ourselves when we’re behaving our natural way.

October 30, 2016 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

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