L. ARUNA DHIR
Communication is the bedrock of any work – blue or white collared, anywhere in the world; even when you are dealing with people virtually. And good communication is what helps you seize the day. The following 11 commandments are presented to not only help you put forward your professional personality in the best way possible but also to shape your mindscape and attune it for a progressive path of success and excellence.
Successful and confident leaders are known to use these statements with aplomb and conviction. Give it a try and see how people and situations become conducive to your personal strategy –
1. I DON’T KNOW
This by far is the single most important statement that can become part of your repertoire. It is loaded with wisdom (you are wise enough to acknowledge what you do or don’t know), maturity (you are mature enough to accept that) and inclination to learn (only when you know and accept that you do not know something that you are willing to take steps in the direction of learning it and making it part of your knowledge bank).
2. I WILL FIND OUT AND COME BACK TO YOU
This simple sentence conveys your credibility and a heightened sense of responsibility.
There are two main advantages of this. The first – it shows that you are a professional and a person of your word. Second – it makes you go through the research required in finding out and ensures that you remember the subject for a long time.
3. I WILL COME BACK IN FIVE MINUTES / IN A DAY OR A WEEK OR WHATEVER
This holds a whole lot of importance in the context of India and with regard to the large sense of timelessness that we seem to live in – a concept that is unique to this ancient land and even its modern people. Consider this – we use the same term for both yesterday and tomorrow – Kal – and the timeline seems to glide from one to the other and back in the most effortless manner.
Having said that; there are a lot of people from different parts of the world who sin on this one! There are many of us who will ignore, procrastinate, pass over without closing the communication loop. This is completely unprofessional.
When you give a timeline for a task or a response to a query or feedback, please respect it. It is your name and reputation on stake, after all.
4. MY TEAM HAS EXECUTED THE CAMPAIGN / MY ASSISTANT HAS HANDLED THIS EVENT
Do not steal credit. Give it where it is due, in time, in the most gracious manner and in front of the right audience.
Giving credit, acknowledging team work, appreciating the junior’s praiseworthy deliverables shows that you are a confident, secure and fair professional. Not only do you give good vibes, nurture a healthy environment but also garner a lot of respect for yourself amidst the significant others.
5. I WAS AWAY ON SICK LEAVE OR VACATION OR ………….
Unless it becomes a habit or harbours on absenteeism, we all need a chunk of ‘ME’ time every once in a while. More so if you work six days a week, twelve or fourteen hours a day or work in organizations that never sleep, like the hospitality industry.
So it is OK to take the time off when you need it – sometimes to attend that PTA meeting, to run a personal errand or to simply just relax at home. But please be honest. Give the right reasons. For everything don’t make your mother or wife or in-laws fall ill ever so often and forcibly. Everybody can see through these shams.
If you are well planned, are not given to long and recurring periods of absence and work for a decent, healthy organization then you would enjoy your work times as much as the play times. There would be a proper work-life balance and you will not have to resort to cheap gimmicks.
6. YOU DID A FANTASTIC JOB / THAT WAS AN EXCELLENT IDEA
Compliment colleagues (and at times even your boss) when you feel that they deserve it! And if you are positive minded then you will often feel so.
Have you noticed how one positive comment in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your work day – you exhibit more energy, you make less mistakes, you get along better with people, there is a zing to your step and you happily put in those extra couple of hours; all because somebody took a minute to make that congratulatory remark.
Being vocal and laudatory about a good input by a colleague will help gain currency for you in their mindsets and will cultivate a healthy professional relationship. You may not like a person but even if you don’t like them it does not mean that they are not good people or good workers. Don’t let your personal biases cloud your professional attitude and judgement.
7. I THANK YOU
Three magic words that can thaw the hardest of icebergs and become a bridge between the toughest of feuding opponents! Coupled with ‘I AM SORRY,’ another set of three magical words, they should form the content of your constant communication from the time you learned to speak and add your two bit to this world.
Show gratitude for any and every good gesture that comes your way or the help and support extended to you by the co-workers, irrespective of their stature. This includes well-meaning thank yous even to the office boy who gets you your tea or the housekeeping attendant who cleans up your desk. (Yes, it is their job, but they did it properly, diligently and without fail for you, without cutting corners and you ARE grateful for that).
8. I COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU
Appreciate the influences from others that impact your work. Remember you are not an island and cannot function in isolation even if you are a lone ranger and head a one person department.
Often in the hectic humdrum of official activity, we tend to overlook the fact that the department is actually not just the lofty name – Executive Office, Human Resources, Sales & Marketing – but a livewire matrix of people right from the HOD down to the Housekeeping attendant. And no matter where we may have graduated from – Harvard or Cambridge – or acquired the initial years of experience, we cannot handle the department on our own steam without the valuable contribution from the team.
Similarly, if the organization is not stewarded by the astuteness, vision and brilliance of a top-of-the-line top dog then the organization will not be a happy, productive and optimally performing place that it should be. So, if this is the place you work in and that is the kind of boss you work for; then let him or her know it when appropriate.
9. MY DEADLINE DEPENDS ON YOU, HENCE PLEASE DELIVER YOUR PART OF THE TASK ON TIME
Say it plainly, professionally and without any extra baggage of undue emotion. No drama required, just plain business speak; as many a times the proper completion of your assignment depends on the inputs from others. And if they lag behind then you will fall short of your commitment. The end result – the organization as a whole suffers.
It is extremely important to be assertive and convey your expectation to those on whom your targets depend. You are hired in that position or are considered a good performer because you deliver. And when it comes to delivering well on an assignment, it would be shoddy of you to say that you could not finish because so and so did not give you the information. It is your responsibility to work through the organizational matrix and ensure that all dots are connected.
10. I CAN DO IT!
The biggest mantra in your work life! No, wait a minute, in life itself. From Carnegie to Khera, Vincent Peale to Covey, all motivational gurus have urged you to inculcate a “can do” spirit.
With several inhibitions and reservations chaining us and a myriad of criticisms, warnings, prohibitions pegging us down, somewhere along the way we forget to realize our potential and shove the “can do” will in the confines of a “will not” womb.
From working on a writing assignment to organizing an event to conceiving a brand new idea to taking on a crisis situation to being a team leader; all along our work lives, we keep coming face to face with thousands of opportunities to which we can enthusiastically say, “I can do it.”
The advantage – it shows off your leadership skills, exhibits enthusiasm, develops a take charge attitude, keeps your learning / practicing trait well-oiled and showcases the winning spirit.
Wonderful opportunities come to only those who keep the door open and “I CAN DO IT” is the biggest mental door of all.
11. I CANNOT DO IT
On the first look, this appears to be a contra statement of the earlier positive statement. But there is nothing overly negative about it, if it is used judiciously and is backed by a good reputation. It simply means that you are ready to delegate or are ready to learn or are not willing to pull wool.
Every handbook on management ideas or time management, every self-help book on getting the best out of you expounds the virtues of the ability to say NO.
Use this statement well and in the right places – when you are being unjustifiably overloaded, when it is time to delegate wisely, when the demands or colleagues are being unreasonable, when your targets and performance are at stake, when you KNOW that the request is coming from a sleazy palm-offer who excels in passing on his or her work to you and when it is just too much to handle.
Use this statement inwardly as a personal motivational tool – I cannot do this hence I must learn it / I cannot do it and must find out why can’t I do it / I am an excellent, diligent performer and I will only say “I cannot do it” when I really am snowed under. And finally, I cannot do it as it is not my place or position to do it.
Here’s hoping that you find fewer speed breaks and road blocks and that your ride is as less bumpy as it can be. Remember it is the free spirited and the fearless will that will find the smooth freeways on the highway of professional happiness.