Office and administrative professionals go go go all day. They come in the morning, check their email, then dig right into the tasks of the day. These tasks may vary from dealing with their manager or peers, creating documents and spreadsheets, coordinating projects or events to one of many other specialized projects. Many of these tasks require top-notch soft skills. Soft skills are interpersonal and interpersonal skills, such as one’s attitude, communication skills, time management abilities, ability to work under pressure, etc. Here are six quick tips to help refine an office professional’s soft skills and get you thinking about how you can improve your own soft skills.
Tip 1 – How To Say No
There are only 24 hours in a day and at times it is necessary to say “No” to people who ask for a favor, for extra work, or for help on a project over our heads. Here are a few things you can try when you need to say no.
If you do not have time due to a heavy workload, explain you are busy but will look into it at a later date, or suggest an alternate plan – possibly flagging up another qualified employee. Another way to express a full workload is explain your calendar is full at the moment. Finally, remember it is okay just to say “No.” Just remember to keep it professional and courteous.
Tip 2 – Choose Your Words Carefully and Think Before You Speak
Communication is very important, but on many occasions the first thing out of your mouth may not be the message you want to relay. Listen to what the person you are talking with is telling you (that is, really listen), and take a few seconds to think about your response. By stopping and thinking about a response, you reduce the risk of jumping to conclusions or saying something you may not mean.
Tip 3 – Time Management – Let voicemail get that call.
We have all been in a situation where we are rushing to complete a project or task by a tight deadline. If you find the clock ticking and that deadline fast approaching, learn to let your voicemail take the calls. Even if you are expecting an important call, let the voicemail take it. You can then listen to the message and decide on the action to be taken.
Tip 4 – Negative Feedback
If you get negative feedback from your boss about a project or your work, try not to take it personally. It is a chance to take a weakness and turn it into a positive. Take the feedback and evaluate the situation. What were the issues? What could have been done better? How could it have been done better? Take the feedback and put an action plan in place for the next time you are in the same situation.
Tip 5 – Clean and safe work area
Keep a clean and safe work area. Make sure you have no daisy chains (extension cords plugged into extension cords). Electrical cords under the desk should not be in the way of your feet and should not be frayed – they must be in good condition. Plants that are kept in high locations, such as on top of cubicle cabinets, should be small in size. If it were to fall, would you be safe? Is the rug or floor in good condition?
Periodically look around and take a mental inventory of your work area. If you do have any safety concerns, then note them all, and address them as soon as possible.
Tip 6 – Take your breaks
Breaks are given for a purpose. Overworking can bring on stress and fatigue. Taking your break in the morning and the middle of the afternoon gives you an opportunity to stretch, breathe, clear your head. Make sure you take your lunch. If at all possible get away from your desk. Taking your lunch and your breaks can improve the quality of your work and keep you healthy. Don’t feel guilty about taking your breaks- they are provided to benefit both you and your employer.