When it comes to success in your job, knowing how to build and maintain positive relationships with people is as important as any technical skills you have. This article discusses the importance of social skills and gives you five ways to develop your social awareness at work.
An organization is about the products it creates or the services it provides, but an organization is also about people: customers, consumers and employees. Without these an organization simply doesnt exist. As an employee in an organization, building positive relationships with people is as important a skill as knowing how to forecast market trends, draft a proposal or weld widgets.
Social Awareness is an emotional intelligence competency that illuminates ideal social behaviors which are beneficial to the organization, the teams in which we work, down to the individuals with whom we interact. When you are socially aware, you are able to:
§ Identify key political relationships in your organization
§ Observe the unspoken rules at work in action and understand the values governing your organization
§ Relate to co-workers and customers regardless of differences
§ Empathize with others and see their point of view even if its different from yours
Over the last decade, a lot of research has been conducted showing that individuals who develop these skills are more successful and more satisfied with their work. Having these social skills are a critical prelude to building and maintaining meaningful relationships in teams and interpersonally. Few people experience increasing success at work when they remain walled up in their offices or cubicles and keep their heads down, eyes focused solely on the work. If you want to succeed in your organization, here are five social skills that will keep you on the right track.
Be aware of others negative moods and dont let yourself go there. Emotions are contagiousboth positive and negative ones. When a direct report is having a meltdown, consider taking him aside and letting him vent or regain control. Youll get greater productivity from all your employees throughout the day than you would if you leave him to stew and lose focus. Negative emotions are especially potent when its a supervisor who is in a foul mood. Control your own reactions, striving to maintain an even, calm tone of voice no matter how loudly the irate person becomes. If your boss is ranting about impossible deadlines, for example, offer reassurance and confidence if youre certain you can get the work done. Your calm demeanor may be enough to calm others and keep a potentially explosive and mood-souring situation from occurring.
Become part of the grapevine. The office grapevine is an informal communications route that circulates organization-related information thats important but not necessarily vital for every employee to know, so management doesnt formalize dissemination of the information. Grapevine information can include when a new position emerges, who is on the short-list for promotion, when a partner or major stakeholder is pulling out, or whether senior leaders are considering implementing a new IT system. Its quite an honor to be known as a person who knows whats going on in the organizationsomeone that others trust to have accurate information. Do not confuse the grapevine with gossip. Gossip doesnt serve the organization; in fact, its often judgmental, personal and mean-spirited.
Engage co-workers in conversation. You spend eight hours a day with your co-workers. Its natural to have genuine curiosity about the people you work alongside. Ask questions about a co-workers interests, family, former jobs, future goalswhatever strikes you as interesting. Share insights into the kind of person you are. When you build a trusting rapport with others, youll find commonalities and a basis for deepening respect. Another perk to building relationships is that people who trust you are more likely to keep you informed when they hear important office news.
Network at all levels of the organization. You never know when youll need assistance from any department in your organization. Get to know the employees in the Printing department as well as HR or Marketing. Too often, ambitious people make the mistake of only networking up, ignoring peers and administrative staff. Thats a mistake. When youre embroiled in a grueling deadline, its not the senior team who will be at your side crunching numbers or reworking that million dollar proposal. If youve been dismissive of peers and staff, you may just find yourself completely alone with that deadline and mountain of work to complete.
Say what you mean, but edit what you say. People may value honesty, but they respect tact. Speak your truth in a thoughtful and professional way. Even if it is Bobs fault that a deadline was missed, does it serve you or the organization to name him in a public meeting? You can opt to meet with Bob, or Bob and his supervisor, later. The important thing is to air the error and get it resolved as quickly as possible. If you dont like a policy or process, get clear on what your objections are. Is it something that will impact the organization negatively? Have others expressed similar concerns? Before you speak out, make sure of your facts; and remain open to hearing the oppositions reasons for enacting that policy. There just might be some factor you havent considered.