If someone ask me what would be the best piece of advice I can give to a recent graduate who is about to start his/her first job, I would have to say: “make sure your social skills are impeccable”.
I have blogged about this topic in the past but this time I want to look at it from a different angle. I believe that having the right attitude and treating your coworkers in a professional, yet social or amicable way, is one of the most powerful things we can do in benefit of our careers.
When most people consider being social at work they tend to think about someone who is funny and always smiling, and although that can be partially true, being social at work comprises much more than that. Being social is about being polite, respectful, committed to what we do, it’s about being a team player, a facilitator, a leader.
Being social in the workplace is about making people around you feel comfortable so that the work environment is as productive as it can be. Depending on the nature of what we do is the “right social attitude” that we must develop. Study your work environment, your colleagues and how they interact with one another. Observe the social dynamics at your workplace and use that information to decide what you can do to put your social skills to good use.
We shouldn’t forget that no matter what type of job we have, most likely, we will be working with other people and whether we like it or not, we are social creatures. A friendly “good morning” a firm handshake, a smile while walking on the hallway, a simple “how are you today?”, are simple yet powerful tools that we can use to our benefit, not to mention that they can also prevent or even help us solve many conflicts. Like I have said on previous blogs, people might not always remember our names, who we are or what we do, but they will remember how we make them feel.
It is also a frequent misconception that one has to be social or friendly only with those that work with us on a daily basis. However, we have to keep in mind that many employees are an essential part of the companies or institutions we work for. From secretaries, to senior employees, supervisors, custodians and administrative assistants we need to make sure that we treat everyone in a respectful and amicable way. I can assure you that at some point we will need, either directly or indirectly, to work with them or even require their assistance.
Being amicable and social with everyone can benefit our professional future in many ways. Think about a colleague from a different department who gives you “intel” on the culture of your company or even a secretary who praises your performance in front of the boss. The point I am trying to make is that we should never underestimate how the way we project ourselves and the way we treat our co-workers can have a tremendous impact on our professional future. Good Luck!