There’s a lot of conversations that go on in the office – from the awkward small talk with your boss to banter with your work bestie.
Sometimes it can be difficult to strike a good balance with your workplace conversations. If you go on about work all the time, people might think you’re uptight and boring. If you share too much information about your personal life or are constantly cracking jokes, you may be viewed as unprofessional and not taking your career seriously.
Our daily conversations at work are extremely important and can have a big impact on your career. You don’t want to be passed up for a promotion because you haven’t taken the time to build relationships with your colleagues.
To help you get your office chatter right, here are a few pointers to follow.
1. Show an interest in your colleagues
This is conversation skills 101. If you take an interest in others by asking them about themselves, you’ll find that people naturally like you. Something as simple as “how’s your day going?” or “did you get up to much at the weekend?” goes a long way.
2. Fit in with your office culture
Some offices are very corporate and professional and bantering with your colleagues may not go down well in this kind of setting. Likewise, if your workplace has a more casual feel then being super-serious all the time is unlikely to work well for you. Figure out what the vibes are at your office and do your best to fit in.
3. Avoid sharing strong opinions on controversial topics
Topics like politics and religion aren’t the best for conversation in the office. There are so many strong opinions in these areas that they may well create a charged atmosphere and upset some people. It’s fine to share your hobbies and interests but steer clear of areas that may churn up some strong opposing views.
4. Be a positive person
Most of us like to have a moan from time to time, but at work, we rarely enjoy listening to others being negative. Instead of whining about your problems at work, be positive and focus on solutions. Negative energy can bring the whole team down!
5. Don’t get involved in gossip
If a colleague shares something private with you, be sure to keep it to yourself otherwise it is likely to come back to haunt you and damage your relationships. Badmouthing fellow colleagues or people in the management team could also end you up in hot water.
6. Listen more than you speak
Listening to your colleagues is an excellent way to gain insight and keep aware of the vibe in your office. When you are chipping in, you should try to do so with something meaningful or positive.
7. Choose your moment
Many of us get very busy at work and we’re snowed under with deadlines or are late to a meeting we don’t fancy stopping to have a chat with a colleague. Be aware of your time frames and ask questions that match the time you have.
8. Don’t suck up to your boss
Ideally, you’ll want to build a good working relationship with your boss, however no one likes a suck up. Your passing conversations with your boss should be just like those with your colleagues and it won’t look good if you’re trying to get their attention all of the time.
9. Have a sense of humour
Having a sense of humour will make you much more approachable at work. What’s important is that you keep your humour office appropriate and don’t take it too far.
10. Invite others into your conversations
Getting involved in conversations is easier for some than others. If you have a natural flair for building relationships try to help others along by getting them involved when you’re having a conversation. This can also help to diffuse tension and make everyone feel more comfortable.
11. Don’t get too personal
It’s good to talk to your colleagues about their personal lives, however there is a fine line and not everyone will feel comfortable talking about personal topics like their relationships. Keep your questions neutral and if they want to volunteer more personal information that is up to them.
12. Genuine compliments go down well
We feel good when we receive compliments and it boosts our mood and confidence. If you think someone has done a great job on a recent project, then let them know. If a colleague delivers an excellent presentation, give them a compliment for it.
Bringing it all together
Office conversations can feel like a bit of a minefield. However, if you listen to others and speak to them in a way that you would like to be spoken to you shouldn’t have any problems.