Communication in the workplace

Aurora Donnelly is a solo practitioner always looking forward to the next exciting transition.

Last week I wrote about the need to communicate in person as well as online through social sites. Personal communication is also a good thing in the workplace.

In a few places I have worked, people do not talk to each other.  There’s a “cool” thing going on, where some people ignore co-workers they see every day, walk past them in the hall and don’t bat an eye or say a “good day.”   What is particularly confusing is in some cases, these same employers have provided monetary rewards in the form of pay raises or bonuses at year end.  All you can do if you find yourself in an environment like this is to focus on doing the best job possible while at this firm, but look to make a move.

But what is the “cool” treatment issue about? I do not understand that behavior.  I know you don’t build successful teams by ignoring people and making them feel less valued than a fly on the wall.  Watch for this kind of behavior if you are interviewing so you don’t go to work for a company that has this type of culture.

Study after study has shown that the most powerful motivational force in the workplace is  feeling that you are valued and that successful organizations foster that feeling in their employees or associates.  People actually value their self-esteem at work above their level of compensation.  We all need and deserve to have our presence and our contributions recognized.

If you recognize these tendencies in your own behavior, shake it off, and say “hello,” or “how are you?”  You are not divulging state secrets. The people you say hello to are not likely to begin stalking you, and incredibly, you might make a new friend.  And friends are what we all need.

If you are a boss, take care how you communicate with your subordinates.  Your behavior will be emulated and will set the tone for your entire organization.  You can create an atmosphere of good will and collaboration or a little hell of resentment where your employees will throw you under the bus at the first opportunity.

Networking is not only about meeting people at a function and exchanging business cards, it is about getting to know people, even those you work with, and helping them reach their goals and having them help you achieve yours.

As attorneys our “person” is very important. Our “person” is our product.  People hire lawyers they feel they know and feel positive about.  This holds true whether you are working for yourself, or for a firm, or are transitioning in some way.  How you communicate with people isn’t only about what you say, but it will also determine how people feel about you.


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