Top 7 skills to have in the workplace

Top 7 skills to have in the workplace
Do you want to know how you can be more popular in the office? Having the right skills can help. Want to avoid being the subject of gossip or ending up being an outcast? Reading this can help you identify skills that you need to improve on so you can become more likable at work:

1. Punctuality

If you’re a chronic latecomer at work, don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting sacked soon after. Being prompt and on time means you respect other people’s time, not only yours. So keep an alarm clock handy to avoid coming to work late.  Lame excuses will not be tolerated for long.If you’re conducting meetings, start on time and finish on time to show you respect everyone’s time.

2. Posture/Mannerisms

Watch your posture and body language. Slouching can be seen as laziness or being disrespectful and disinterested.  Maintaining correct posture, which means having a straight spine, is also good for your overall health.Avoid talking too loud or having awkward mannerisms, such as constant tapping of a pen, hair twirling, nail biting, etc. Equally worth noting is being overly shy.  If you find that you’re having some kind of anxiety or nervousness at work, then perhaps you can benefit from seeking professional help in addressing the underlying issue or source of your anxieties. I know someone who was working for an IT company, and although everybody around him was pleasant, he constantly felt paranoid that they were talking ‘behind his back’ and ‘ganging up on him’. He enlisted the help of a psychotherapist and, after a few sessions, saw improvement.          

3. Sorry, Thank You, Please

These are the ‘magic’ words that you need to constantly use when talking to colleagues. Being pleasant will get you more work done too. So be generous with ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you,’ and if you made a mistake, own it and say ‘Sorry.’

4. Listening Skills

Resist ‘tuning out’ colleagues by having earplugs constantly plugged in your ears.  Drop distractions when someone is talking to you and face them; make eye contact and really give them your time. Never cut someone off or roll your eyes; let them finish what they are saying, and the pause to give your answer, comment, or opinion.Avoid talking over someone when discussions become heated. Be patient; let them talk, and talk only once they finish.

The 2 Week Diet

5. Communication Skills

There is a time to listen and a time to speak: avoid being seen as a pushover by learning how to speak up when necessary. There is bound to be office politics in any work environment, and while it is commendable to avoid gossip, if there is talk of you being involved in something that isn’t true, then you need to speak up and clear it. Not doing so will signal indifference and people concluding for themselves that those ‘rumors’ are true.

Never talk about someone behind their back; that can easily backfire and put you in trouble. Address your concerns to the right person. If you approached the person in question and was greeted with a hostile reaction, then perhaps going to your supervisor for advice might help. The Human Resources department is trained to handle such situations, and in a worst case scenario, do not be afraid to approach the Human Resources Manager to let them know your concerns. If you are unhappy or want something resolved, say it.  Be more open to colleagues and try to express yourself in a way that is not rude or aggressive. Remember that it is not what you say but how you say it. As the expression goes:  ‘never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon’;try to be as diplomatic as possible, and keep in mind the choice of words you use when discussing important

6. Writing Skills, email etiquette

Equally important to have in the workplace is having great letter writing skills and email etiquette. Keep your emails honest, short, and clear. Avoid sending too many personal emails from your assigned work email, especially ones that have large attachments, such as videos and personal photos. Bear in mind that companies can monitor email accounts of their employees for security reasons, so be mindful of what you use your account for. Those long and distracting mass-forwarded emails about ‘the 20 cutest zoo animals’ are best read from your home computer using your personal email account.

7. Sociable and open

As you are in a social setting at work, it is expected that you are sociable and open as opposed to sitting in a corner and minding your stuff. Acknowledge co-workers by smiling and greeting them whenever you get the chance.  While it is not required for you to be a ‘social butterfly’ and initiate every office event/party(unless you are that type), do participate when you can, especially on important annual gatherings such as the company’s Christmas party or anniversary.

It doesn’t take a lot to smile and make an effort to fit in. After all, it would be to your advantage to get along with your co-workers as you are spending a lot of time with them.With many people pulling in 30-50 hours of work per week, most people get to spend more time with their co-workers than with their families.  So invest a little in having a good relationship with your colleagues; having the right skills at work will help you achieve that.

About the author

Mae Davies

BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.