Written by Emily Linginfelter, Marketing and Communications Intern
Daylight savings time may have brightened our mornings this past weekend, but make sure you don’t also “fall back” on career development this holiday season. Thanksgiving is the prime time to trade our pre-finals task lists for family and friends…sometimes even the occasional encounter with an old classmate! Do you know that you can prepare for a career between your second and third helpings of turkey without any added work? What’s the secret?! Here is a hint: It rhymes with…
Photo courtesy of James Stansfield, http://www.denofgeek.com
Our Thanksgiving buzzword isn’t indigestion… think OBSERVATION! Transform your guests into sources of inspiration by paying attention to their communication patterns. Each friendly encounter holds a conversation’s worth of advice that might be applicable to office-like settings ranging from interviews to casual break room chats.
Though most people seated around the Thanksgiving table are related, it’s inevitable that the relationships vary between each person. Some cousins may have memories of racing down their grandparents’ hallways, while Great-Uncle Jermaine from Sandusky, Ohio’s name is only remembered through the annual birthday card.
Whether the individuals have just met, recently reconnected or remained close, the foundations of introductory communication are generally the same. Here are a few relevant patterns:
- Touch can be done through a firm handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a quick hug or sometimes a peck on the cheek.
- Eye Contact suggests that your undivided attention is invested in the present conversation.
- Phatic expression is a fancy phrase for “small talk” or a prelude to conversation. It is purposefully close-ended so the recipient can choose to answer briefly or elaborate on an answer. Examples of phatic expressions include “hello” and “good to see you.”
Add these three patterns- touch, eye contact and phatic expression– into your next job-oriented introduction, and voila! You have a conversational startup kit for meeting friends at networking and office events!
II. Genuine Interest
After this initial interaction, it is important to keep the conversation active by showing your curiosity in the other person. People demonstrate their relationship commitments through active listening and acts of service. This commonly occurs when relatives ask open-ended questions and jump right into washing dishes during the holidays.
Consider developing the same sense of generosity in your workplace. Go out of your way to pay extra attention to the details mentioned by your coworkers and dedicate at least one small task each day that makes another person’s routine a little easier.
Finally, notice the general language friends and relatives use when they say goodbye. They typically communicate positive sentiment and plans to reconnect in the future. Some of the comments may include:
- Plans to reach out/be together later
- Suggestions about future meetings
- References to the day-For example, an uncle may say, “I was so glad to hear that your sister got accepted into Xavier with a scholarship. I can’t wait to hear her stories next fall.”
Wherever and whenever, aim to enter and leave interactions on a positive note, especially when you belong to a team-oriented workplace. Offer words of encouragement and thankfulness when a co-worker, friend or family member consistently makes an impact on your life. You’ll gradually notice the environment change when you decide to express gratitude.
Xavier, approach this Thanksgiving and every day with an appreciative spirit. Happy Thanksgiving!
Bonus: Check out this TedTalks video about gratitude while you’re waiting for a flight departure or riding through the winding country roads en route to home.