How Socializing Too Much – or Too Little – Can Disqualify You from Leadership Positions at Work
Do you know what it really means to act like a “professional” at work?
Many people don’t. You should know when socializing disqualifies leadership positions at work. In fact, many people are so far off base in their interpretation of being “professional” that it costs them opportunities at work.
Being a charismatic executive leader – and, by default, a true professional in the workspace – requires heightened awareness of social nuances in the office. It means noticing when your coworkers are upset or having a hard day and reaching out to them… but also not chatting so much at work that it stops the workflow.
It’s a delicate balance. Let’s take a look at how professionalism at its best shows up in the office place.
Do you talk too much at work?
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Being Professional Means Being Human
One of my clients recently struggled with walking the professional line at work. She’s a leader in her space, but she has a hard time connecting to the people with whom she works.
In fact, she has such a hard time connecting that one of her colleagues called her a “robot”!
She was so upset about this. We talked about it for a while, and finally I told her, “You need to ask him why he said that, if only so that you understand where he was coming from.”
She did ask him, and he was kind to her. He apologized and essentially told her that she didn’t know how to have fun. Around the office people perceived her to be “all about business” and uninterested in their personal lives.
Most employees want to know that you have a life outside of work. They want to know that you care about them so they can feel like you have their back… which is also how you’ll earn their trust. It’s a team mentality.
Know How and When to Speak
If you find yourself chatting a lot at work, it’s important to realize that gossip in the workplace can seriously harm your potential to move up the ladder. Gossip is killer at work. Employees who are caught gossiping often will never be able to restore their reputations because good managers know how harmful gossip is to a productive and healthy team. If you catch yourself gossiping – that is, talking about somebody or spreading rumors about the company – stop! You’re not doing yourself or your colleagues any favors.
If you find out that someone is spreading gossip about you, the professional way to handle it is to approach them and say, “Why are you saying these things about me? Where did you get this information?”
It’s important that you don’t confront the gossiper maliciously. Rather, go to them with a sense of curiosity. This way, you can nip the gossip in the butt (I promise, the moment you approach a gossip, she or he will zip up their lips very quickly!). You can also say, “You know, I really don’t appreciate what you’re saying about me. If you have a problem, come to me right away and talk to me.”
Most importantly, remember that you’re in the workplace to have pleasant interactions with your colleagues and get work done effectively. If you catch yourself chatting too much, or on the flip-side, if you find that you’re not connecting with your peers, make an effort to shift the dynamic. I promise, you’ll see results!