The following “It’s Not Complicated” AT&T commercials may be fun and cute, but they also are full of advice on how to be more productive at work.
In politics and in sports the phrase “keep it simple” is often repeated like a mantra as a way to win the contest.
But in the workplace, it can be a different matter. Office politics, worldwide competition and fast-breaking technological advances can mean we’re always scrambling to keep up with the next cubicle. This mad dash often is based on running the race as fast as we can, and not on reaching the finish line.
Instead of being more productive, we find ourselves running out of gas and risking our emotional and physical well-being, not to mention hurting our careers with our lack of clear focus.
Is there a way to stop this spinning dervish? Absolutely. All it takes is some recognition that a problem exists and then taking steps to improve.
Speed can kill your credibility
In a world of 30-second soundbites, one-minute YouTube sensations and texts fired off in nanoseconds, it can be difficult not to be thought of badly if you just want to take some time to gather your thoughts before responding.
But since your credibility can depend on what you say, don’t respond if you’re not sure of your facts.
“Can you let me get back to you with that information after I’ve had a chance to check my facts? When must you absolutely have that information?”you can ask. Often, people will back off their demand for immediacy once you slow down the conversation and ask for a specific deadline.
Also, consider turning off your email notifications. This may be difficult at first, so try checking emails by setting your cellphone timer for 30 minutes and expanding that by 15 minutes every couple of days. Eventually, you will train yourself not to jump into action whenever an email arrives, and your colleagues will learn to accept that you don’t respond immediately. You can also set an auto-respond to let family and friends know you’ll answer emails at a certain time each day.
Whether it’s answering an email, a text or even a direct question, not rushing to fill the silence can feel uncomfortable in such a fast-paced world. But experts say that it’s much better to take a moment and think of an appropriate and competent reply before filling it with nonsensical comments. Like the fact that you think strapping a cheetah on your Grandma’s back might be a good idea.
Always seek clarification
Have you ever been in a meeting and wish subtitles were available? Not because your colleague or boss was speaking a foreign language, but because what was coming out of their mouths made no sense? No one is a perfect communicator, so don’t be shy about asking questions when you’re confused about information being given. It doesn’t make you look stupid — but it sure will later when you get things wrong because you didn’t take the time to clarify information.
Never leave a meeting without a clear understanding of your action items, the deadline and who will be supervising your efforts. Summarize your understanding and make sure you get an agreement from team members and your boss. If you can’t seem to coral people long enough to get a clear idea of what you’re supposed to do, send an email with follow-up questions. Never make assumptions.
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