Are you introverted? Do you have trouble articulating your ideas and values to higher-ups in your company? It happens. Communication challenges like this are a reality for many, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It certainly doesn’t mean people who feel this way are any less capable than their extroverted peers. Talking with a superior at work can feel like compiling your worst social anxieties into one, large, seemingly impossible task for many professionals. However, to get the recognition you deserve, your bosses need to recognize you for who you truly are rather than your job title and daily routine. That is possible for anyone! There are a few skills you can develop over time to make a great impression and genuine connection with superiors.
We have put together a few pieces of advice to help you get started today.
1) Talk with everyone – especially if it makes you uncomfortable. If you wait until it is time to speak with superiors to polish your communication skills, you put yourself at risk. It is a good habit to develop a rapport with everyone with whom you work. Not only will this help you practice your speaking skills, but it will also make you a more sociable presence in the office. People are more likely to support you and even recommend you for projects if they enjoy working with you. Additionally, when your chance with the boss presents itself, you will have more confidence. The key is to be interesting and interested when you speak. About what are you passionate? What is the last book you read or film you watched? What have you learned or experienced lately that gets you excited? If your answer is nothing—try something new this week, even if it is checking out a new local park or small restaurant. You don’t have to go overboard and talk for hours, but a few minutes of authentic connection can go a long way. When we say be interested, we mean ask questions in your conversations that go beyond the mundane small talk. Find out what your peers are passionate about.
2) If you find yourself in need of a stronger confidence boost, try reading a book on the strength that resides in you as you are. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a fantastic option. When you lack a skill, whether it be how to build a birdhouse or how to salsa dance, you consult someone who has the answers. With so much to gain from being able to talk to your superiors, there is no reason not to read up on the subject. We also recommend Extraordinary Confidence: Your Ultimate Path to Love, Wealth and Freedom by Dr. Aziz Gazipura. Preparation is the key to success in all aspects of life. Assuming you will rise to the occasion without putting in the due diligence is simply irrational. There are plenty of options to help you get started. If you find reading books a challenge with your schedule, check out videos by Charisma on Command.
Once you have done some studying, try implementing what you have learned into every part of your life. For a simple, yet ingenious way to test your newfound self-confidence, go to a local restaurant, and order a sandwich without ever saying “Um.” Being articulate in the face of rapid questioning (Six-inch or footlong? What type of bread? Which cheese?) is a skill worth honing. Don’t get caught stuttering when your boss starts asking tough questions.
3) One of the biggest mistakes people make when speaking with their superiors is forgetting about humanity in the face of authority. While the ultimate goal may be self-advancement, you should seek out a genuine human connection with your superiors. This will be more effective than pursuing transactional moments, and it is simply a more ethical thing to do. Just as you want your boss to treat you like a complex, holistic person and not a statistic in a weekly memo, so too, do your department heads wish to be treated with the same courtesy.
While we cannot write you a script, we do hope that these general rules help you in your professional life. For more advice on workplace conundrums or information on individual communication skills coaching click here.