After a year of constant change and uncertainty, Katie Lightfoot, Senior Client Manager and Tutor at RADA Business, shares a range of suggestions for 2022 to help workers thrive in their role and feel more connected with those around them.
Opening yourself to new and challenging opportunities can help you to build new skills and create career progression. It can be daunting to ask for more opportunities, which is why building your confidence to approach these conversations should be on your work resolution list this year.
One technique to help equip yourself for seeking progression is to prepare for these conversations. Take time to be clear about the objective of the interaction. Be as specific as possible; short and simple statements will help you to communicate more clearly and confidently. Try saying your key points out loud to yourself or a friend to practise your delivery, ensuring they land with impact.
Although hybrid working is now commonplace across many industries, less face-to-face time with your colleagues should not impact your ability to progress your career. Asking for a review meeting, whether in-person or virtually, will help show that you’re confident to take on more responsibility at work.
One thing virtual working has taught us is the importance of human connection and building relationships with our co-workers. Having a strong relationship with colleagues will allow you to feel more supported in your role by those around you and will also make it easier to approach difficult conversations. The new year is a good time to set goals to improve your working relationships, whether you feel a sense of disconnect from your colleagues or are simply keen to strengthen existing relationships.
To help build these connections, it is important to make the time to talk with your co-workers, whether through a casual chat or more formal meetings. Throughout your conversations, make regular eye contact to show you are engaged. If you are working virtually, make direct eye contact with your camera and give your full attention to the call, as opposed to working on other tasks at the same time.
If you are in a client-facing role, building a strong working relationship with your clients is also essential as this will allow you to work more effectively together. Making sure to have regular client meetings will help show your commitment and build a more authentic working relationship.
When preparing to speak, whether in a formal presentation or a regular meeting, we often spend more time focusing on our content – what we’re going to say – rather than the response we want to create – how we want our audience to feel.
Take time to consider who your listeners are and what reaction you want to trigger within them. Do you want to inspire and motivate, to reassure or perhaps to challenge? Being clear about your emotional objective, and fully committing to it, will ensure that your message lands in the way you want it to.
If you find presentations daunting, or often feel they lack impact, use 2022 as an opportunity to develop your presentation and communication skills. Whether you’re in a meeting with clients, colleagues or stakeholders, it is important to be able to present to others effectively so that your key points land with impact.
To improve presentations, remember the mantra: “Think. Breathe. Speak.” Very often in presentation situations we forget to breathe, jumping straight from thought to speech. This tends to make us rush, it starves us of valuable oxygen and it doesn’t allow our audience time to digest what we’re saying.
Use the “Think. Breathe. Speak.” approach to create space and time around what you’re saying. It will transform the impact of your message.
If you have recently taken on new responsibilities at work, perhaps through a promotion, set the resolution to be present when facing new challenges.
When assuming new responsibilities, perhaps delivering a pitch or meeting senior stakeholders, practise calmly holding your space. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, ensuring your knees are loose and not locked and your weight is evenly distributed. Imagine there is a thread pulling you up from the crown of your head, which lengthens your spine, releasing any tension and a similar thread which runs through one shoulder, across your chest and out of the other, creating width across the body. Maintaining a strong posture will allow you to feel more grounded and focused, enabling you to convey a sense of confidence and authority.
So, as you head into 2022, there are plenty of techniques that you can use at work, whether in-person or virtually, to help you feel more confident in your role, push for further opportunities and progression within your career and feel more connected to those around you.