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Fast Tips for the Fast Track

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Pry open a silent clam. To draw out shy employees, start by asking a simple, fact-finding question. Sketch a few tentative conclusions and let them guide you to what they consider the right one. Don’t ask lots of follow-up questions too soon, or you’ll overreach.


Compliments that count. When you praise an employee, don’t be vague. Rather than saying, “You’re doing a good job,” say, “Your software skills saved us again.”


Preface your criticism. Don’t insert a canned compliment before criticizing. Try opening with, “Here’s something I want to bring to your attention.” Then cut to your point. Your message will ring true if you skip the hollow flattery.


Cling to custom when negotiating. If someone makes an outrageously stingy offer, don’t get huffy. Instead, ask politely, “Is it customary for you to offer that?” This puts the onus on your opponent to justify the amount. Whatever the answer, cite industry custom to explain what you’ll accept.


Reality check. Don’t react to criticism by inflating its importance. If your boss mentions a work-related error you made, don’t think “I messed up again” or “Now they must think I’m a fool.” Learn from it.


Take a snafu in stride. When minor things go wrong, don’t overreact. Sighing, cursing or fretting won’t solve anything and may lead others to doubt your resilience. Stay optimistic, plot solutions and move on.

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