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Networking Interview #1: How To Communicate Effectively at Work

Today I am so excited to share with you Interview #1 of my 2012 networking challenge!  In today’s interview, I have the wonderful opportunity to interview Dawn Stanyon.  Dawn is the Director of Sales at the Emily Post Institute and a blogger at Professionality. Dawn’s specialties are body language, communication, and presentations. Today, she will be speaking to us about how to communicate effectively, and I can’t wait! 

Thank you so much, Dawn, for sharing your tips with us classy career girls!!  

In case you are reading this at work and can’t watch the video, you can read all of the great advice about how to communicate effectively at work below!

1. How can young professional women have body language that projects confidence in the workplace?

I speak to many women and the biggest issues I see are that women have with body language and communication.  It comes from inside.  Body language are tricks we can learn to help communicate and show an image of ourselves.  But, we have to be it inside for it to come outside for it to be perceived as sincere and honest.  
Here are some quick tips:
  • Be aware of your strengths and limitations with body language. That could be with working with a friend at work or a best friend at home. Stand up and give a little presentation to them for 15 seconds and have them give you input. Be aware of your body language strengths and weaknesses.
  • Check your gestures. It’s really important that you not do distracting gestures. A lot of women touch their hair when they are talking to someone, even if it is a close co-worker you should really avoid doing that. Strange gestures with your hands like rubbing your hands together you also should avoid. It means I am nervous and I am washing my hands of this situation. So you want to try NOT to do gestures that distract. You want to not have high gestures or low gestures, make sure you keep it between your shoulders and your hips.
  • The most important thing to do to convey confidence is good posture. You have to stand up straight, have your shoulders back and your chin forward. That’s how men project confidence. They take up space, they have big shoulders and have their arms out they are taking up space saying I am here. Women need to do that, too. Women tend to put their head down or make ourselves smaller. So stand up straight and look forward!
  • When you walk into a room, know that you always know more than your audience. Keep this in mind! (or at least believe you do) and then your confidence will show.

2. How can we become better presenters and get over our fears of networking?

Join the club, it’s the most common fear in the world! There are SO many tricks that you can learn for public speaking, networking, and how to communicate effectively.
  • You have to practice. The most nervous that you can be is when you don’t know what you are talking about.  Practice what you are going to talk about. Be an expert in what you are going to talk about.You have to be confident in your material (not Einstein).
  • Practice some more.  Practice with the washing machine, the mirror or in the car, that way if you do it differently when you are presenting, it doesn’t matter.
  • Practice breathing, women have a problem breathing when they are nervous. All your breath goes up into your throat, and your voice gets shaky and it makes it hard to talk. It’s because we don’t have enough air going through.  Before you speak, you need to go somewhere private, you need to do deep breathing from the abdomen. That brings oxygen up to your brain.  You think better and it slows down you pulse and your nervousness.
  • Butterflies in your stomach? Don’t think of them as those sad butterflys bashing against each other and making you feel sick. Think of them instead of colorful butterflies who want to share the information you are going to convey. This will help you feel excited instead of nervous. It’s also OK to yell in the car.  Yelling helps the oxygen get moving and is really good (if you are alone).

3. How can we communicate better with our bosses, clients, and co-workers?

  • Be self-aware. The idea of good communication skills is so that you can succeed and build relationships. Be aware of your communication strengths and weaknesses (or attributes and limitations) and have self awareness.
  • Don’t avoid conflict because avoiding conflict leads to conflict.  It leads to stress and those butterflies that are bashing against each other in our stomachs instead of being enthusiastic and excited. You can be honest and sincere and put your issues out there and have discussions.  People love that and want to know what to expect from you.  If you are the kind of person that avoids conflict and doesn’t share, you can be perceived as passive aggressive and that is never a good thing.  Do be able to talk about things at work.
  • It’s not all about you. When you are communicating with co-workers we often perceive that they are angry at us, or they don’t like what we are saying when that might not be true at all.  They have their own issues, maybe they are under a deadline or maybe they didn’t get to sleep until 2am because their baby was crying. We often project our own fears onto other people.  So you need to have big shoulders and if there is a problem, you need to talk about it and don’t always think that they don’t like you because it isn’t all about you!  We have to think of conflict as moving forward instead of a bad stop. 

[Related Post: Quick Guide: How to Network at Networking Events]

4. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before getting into the professional world?

It’s OK to not be perfect.  It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to do something that you wish you hadn’t done, because if we don’t do those things we never grow. The most important thing is that we all keep growing and that we all keep learning. A terrible mistake is to think you know everything.  We are all flawed. Put yourself out there and do big things!  If something doesn’t go right, make your apologies and don’t do it the next time.

What tip about how to communicate effectively are you going to implement at work?

Hi, I'm Anna!

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