Quantcast

The Number One Soft Skill You Need To Thrive In Your Career

As you prepare for your future, are you equipping yourself with the right tools?

Workin' Girl

You just started your first job out of college. What you prepared for your entire life to jumpstart your career is this very moment. You've set performance goals, and you've started your list of senior leaders you plan to set lunch dates with, but are you communicating well with your manager? As you prepare for your future, which can be next year, next week or even tomorrow, one thing we all forget to take ownership of is our communication skills.

How we communicate is vital in our growth and will be a pain point in your formative years in your career.

"As new grads starting their first job out of college, communication can be your greatest asset or challenge," shared Meredith Moore Crosby, author of "Getting Unstuck: A Guide To Moving Your Career Forward", a guide on how to advance at work. From emails to phone or in-person meetings, the way you communicate in a corporate setting doesn't come with your degree. It's on the job soft skills you pick up from managers, peers, and companies, but it's a skillset some organizations expect you to have right away.

Crosby is a communications expert who managed teams at Verizon, McDonald's, 3M and Comcast and understands how communications can be pivotal in "navigating the unwritten rules" of corporate America. "It starts with the understanding [that the rules] exist and getting clarity early about what your manager and the people who can decide your fate at work [want]. Whether you get promoted or fired all depends on how you react and communicate," she shared.

Here are her tips for working through communication challenges that present themselves at work:

Understand how your manager communicates.

"Most of us hope to work at our first real job for a while. Your first job is where you'll develop skills, friendships, and habits. Often the company culture shows up in how people communicate, so the first few weeks can be difficult while you learn the unwritten rules," shared Crosby. She advises that you open communication lines with regular one-on-one meetings. You create a road map to how you'd like to communicate your progress or challenges with your manager.

She suggests you assess how your manager interacts during the early days of your new job by asking these three questions:

  1. How do people get more information on the direction?
  2. How would you like to give me feedback on my work?
  3. How will I know if I am off track or missing your expectations?

Ask for clarity when you don't understand what your manager wants.

Sometimes the directions our managers give us aren't always clear. However, we often hit a crossroad when considering whether to ask for clarification or figure it ourselves. Will our manager think we are incompetent if we don't understand our assignments? But what if we work on the task inefficiently by doing the wrong thing?

To help with understanding your work, Crosby suggests you ask for examples, templates, or expectations when you receive new assignments.

"Take time when getting new work to reconfirm the expectations, timeline, and what to do if you have existing priority work," she explained. She suggests asking for clarity before agreeing by saying, "Thanks for the opportunity to work on this! I was working on XX as we discussed in our weekly one-on-one, should I switch gears and focus on this based on when you want to see something?"

Remember written communication can follow you.

Emails and messaging software like Slack are like social media. Even if you delete it, it can't be unseen by others, and it can be printed or referred to over and over again. "Remember, it's a written document that can come up in legal issues in the future. Never joke, be sarcastic or make comments you wouldn't want to clarify in a court of law," Crosby shared. Her three tips for managing email communications at work include:

  1. Be respectful, kind, and conscious of the timeliness of your email. When in doubt, talk in person and resolve an issue or opportunity immediately.
  2. Use bold to highlight actions and don't be afraid to resend friendly reminders if you don't get a response.
  3. Get an email buddy. Ask them to review your message for tone, clarity, and to make sure you aren't getting distracted by your perspective.

Find a mentor.

There's always that one person at work who sends great emails and gives excellent speeches at work. They capture your attention every time they speak at a meeting or send an email. If you have identified that person at work, Crosby believes that that person can be a mentor for you.

"Find a role model and if possible, build a relationship, and you can potentially cultivate a mentorship where you can get individual feedback. In the meantime, consider how they would respond in situations where you might feel stuck."

Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!

Featured image by Shutterstock

Originally published on September 2, 2019

Kissing is such a fascinating thing — to me. The reason why I say that is because, if the person you are exchanging a kiss with is someone who is good at it, it can be the sexiest, most special and most exhilarating thing ever. On the other hand, if they aren't so good — it's just gross. I don't know about y'all, but kissing is such a big deal in my world that I once broke up with someone, in part, because they totally sucked at doing it. It was like, no matter how hard I tried to explain to them what I needed in order to feel like we were in "kissing sync", they would continue to go off and do their own thing. All over my face (yuck).

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

We have witnessed Halle Berry go through many ups and downs in love, but it seems like she may have finally found the one. The Bruised star is dating R&B singer Van Hunt and she spoke with ET about the love in her life during ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which took place on Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.

Samari Ijezie is the creator of The Female Economist, a platform created to challenge and disrupt the stereotypical gender norms within the financial industry while educating millennials of financial literacy. However, before founding this financial literacy company for women and marginalized millennials, she had a career in fashion and style as a model that started in her preteen years. Though she briefly kicked off her modeling career at the age of fourteen, it was short-lived because soon after high school, Ijezie decided to go off to college but later had to drop out during her freshman year due to not receiving financial assistance in the next term.

Keep reading... Show less

Many people love October for the new fall fashion fits, changing weather, and never-ending horror movies. And while all of those are valid reasons, there's another one that should be added to the mix, the fact that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like many, cancer has impacted my family personally, and I'm well aware of the forever effect it can have on individuals, loved ones, and survivors. That's why I appreciate that this month serves as a personal reminder to donate, foster community, and volunteer toward a fight that affects so many of us.

Keep reading... Show less

There's that old wives' tale that sex before a sports match is a major no-no for athletes, but when it comes to us everyday folk, consistent lovemaking does the mind and body good. In fact, sex and productivity can actually go hand in hand. A recent multiple-university study found that professionals who had sex the night before going into work had "more positive moods" that increased work engagement and job satisfaction.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Adrienne Bailon Wants Women Of Color To Take Self-Inventory In Order To Redefine Success

"You can't expect anyone else to care about yourself like you do."

Latest Posts