Have you ever read a job description and thought, “yes! This is it! They’ve just described me, I’m passionate about the cause, and the specifics sound great”?
You apply, the interviews go well, and next thing you know, you’ve landed a job that gets you excited to wake up for each Monday! Then, time goes on and you find yourself dreading the start of the work week…the job you loved has somehow become the job you hate.
Luckily, we can do something about that!
For the second year in a row, “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” was rated as the top contributor to employee job satisfaction in the research report released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Respect and good communication practices go hand-in-hand. Let’s explore some communication strategies you can use to create a respectful, communicative work culture and become re-engaged with the job you love!
Listen, Pause, Speak
Active listening is the most difficult strategy for me to do consistently, but it always leads to immediate, effective results! Next time you are in a meeting or chatting with a coworker about a project on which you are collaborating, allow yourself to focus solely on what they are saying - pause whatever activity you were in the middle of, quiet your inner dialogue, and try not to let any emotions distract you. Then comes the tricky part (for me at least) of pausing before responding. This pause changes everything! It creates space for the other person to come to a definite conclusion and for you to think about what they’ve said and how you should respond. If you can use this skill in the workplace, you’ll find that conversations feel more productive, information retention is improved, and people- including you- will feel their time is respected.
Make it Personal
Blending the personal with the professional often comes with the territory of nonprofit organizations. It’s likely that most of the staff have a personal connection to the cause, and the success of your work is reliant on the success of others. It’s possible to achieve an engaging blend that still respects the diversity of personal boundaries and experiences within the organization. Try these three tips:
- Connect with people by using their names, not their title or department. This opens up the possibility for building positive relationships, open-minded interactions, and collaborative teams. If you are starting a new project, ask people to introduce themselves to the group with their name and an accomplishment or skill they are proud of.
- Notice how individuals prefer to communicate and try to mirror it. This is really useful if you are feeling unheard. Mirroring their language, mode (e-mail, scheduled meeting, slideshow, etc) of communication, and time-of-day preferences are small ways you can create a situation where they are likely to be open and receptive to new ideas. If it isn’t the same way you usually like to communicate this type of information, you can let them know that you adapted for this particular instance because it was important to you that this goes well - people will appreciate the personal attention and take note of what your preferred style is!
- Use your workspace to showcase things about your personal life you feel comfortable talking about. These conversation starters give others some idea of your boundaries AND can serve as energizing, motivational tools when work gets stressful.
Create Space for Yourself
You know you best. Be honest with yourself about your workplace stressors and motivators. Workplace stressors are things that send up distracting red flags that prevent you from actively listening or trigger emotions you can’t seem to control in the moment. Workplace motivators are things that spark your can-do attitude and remind you of why you love your job! Once you’re honest with yourself about these, you can figure out how to communicate these to others.
Saying “no” to a project, even when the request seems unreasonable or better suited for someone else, is a stressor for some of us. Try hearing what they have to say and building in some time to get back to them with a well thought-out response. This gives you time to go over your schedule and see how the new project might fit (if at all). It’s also an opportunity for you to deliver your response in your ideal communication method - whether that means a well-written e-mail, scheduled meeting time, or something else.
These are only a few examples of communication strategies that can lead to a respectful, motivating work environment - helping you re-engage with the job you love!
By Jhia Jackson