Six Factors that Shape your Career – Part 2

In the following blog series based on career advice, we will be exploring the six factors that can help you shape your career. In Part 1 we looked at the first two factors – Being good with people and doing your job well. In this second post, we take a look at the next two factors – Being good at communication and Remembering the little things, two vitally important concepts to understand when navigating your career journey.

Factor three: Be good at communication.

If you are going to have a career of any sort, you are going to have to learn to talk to other people. Although this might sound easy at first, talking to another person includes more than just opening your mouth and speaking. When talking to other people, it is very important to really listen to what the other person is saying. You need to understand other people, people who might not understand concepts the way you understand them, and you have to present your views in such a way that other people want to listen to you. As with everything in life, practice makes perfect and if you practice talking and listening effectively, you will be successful. Here are three areas of communication which I have found to be particularly important at the start of your working life.

  • Give a friendly first impression to everyone you meet:

First impressions are lasting, and you cannot change them once they are set. When you greet people, greet them with a smile. When you smile you tell people that you are approachable and friendly. When you meet people that you have not met before, introduce yourself to them, and very important, ask them a question. Do not look skeptical, be open, show interest in and curiosity about the person you are talking to. Even if you are shy, you can get used to smiling when you meet people. When you do this, other people, who might also be shy, feel secure and safe in your company and it makes them relax and gives the conversation a positive atmosphere. 

  • Be a good listener:

To be a good listener you have to be mentally present in all discussions you participate in. This will ensure that you come across as genuinely interested in the topic being discussed. Try to get used to asking questions if you are curious about something and put your phone away when you are talking to other people. When you are listening to someone, look them in the eye and interact with what they are saying. You can do this by nodding your head.

  • Take initiative:

This is a skill that will benefit you greatly throughout all aspects of your life, not just in your career. Take the initiative. Start conversations with other people. Do not wait for people to start talking to you. Other people may be just as shy as you are and if no one starts the conversation, no dialogue can take place. An easy way to get yourself used to initiating conversation is to greet the people standing in the elevator, or you can walk up to others and say hello and ask them how they are doing, share a little bit about yourself and ask what their plans for the day are. If you build the bridge to others, they will use the same bridge to get to you.

Factor four:  Remember the little things.

A common mistake often made by people in their career is to look for and focus on “one big thing” that they are doing to make an impression on others. You might think that you have to be ‘better’ than other people, that you have to come up with something ‘incredibly unique’, that you have to secure the ‘big sale’, that you have to ‘conduct wonderful analysis’, that you have to deliver the ‘best calculations’, or that you have to come up with the ‘ingenious change proposal’? 

The truth is that success rarely revolves around the one great amazing thing. Success is made up of all the little things. The fact that you smile when you come into work is such a small or insignificant thing. Cleaning the meeting room after you have used it, putting the used coffee cups in the dishwasher or replacing a light bulb, even though it might not be your job, are examples of the little things. Emptying the full trashcan before your meeting, pick up any small papers that might be lying on the floor, being nice to the cleaning staff and talking to people more than you talk about people are some more examples of the little things. 

It is also important that you do not entertain negative talk, that you quickly notice when someone else needs help, that you talk positively about your job at parties even though you might have had a long and stressful day and that you ALWAYS arrive on time. 

The things I mention here might seem insignificant, but I promise you that these are noticed by everyone, especially by the bosses. It shows your bosses that you are someone with initiative that can look further than their own nose and that takes responsibility. 

When you get good at the little things, there are two things that happen. 

  1. You become more conscious, aware and present in your daily life. You are able to take more in, understand more — and learn more.
  2. You will see a slightly bigger picture than most people by looking beyond your own area of responsibilities. This is an invaluable attribute to have especially when creating bigger things later on in your career. 

As you can see, it is not the one big thing or accomplishment that will set you apart, but the collection of little things that show your colleagues and bosses your character. Click here to see part three of our three-part blog series on – The six factors that shape your career.

Topic: Communication Power