Basic Survival Skills for the Modern Workplace

Swinging Sumatran Orangutans

The modern workplace is like a jungle and you have to have the necessary skills just to survive if not as Spock would say in Star Trek… ‘To live long and prosper’

Those skills include the ability to communicate, negotiate and educate.

Communicate to Succeed
The ability to be able to communicate fluidly and fluently separates the weak from the strong in the modern workplace herd. And we all know what happens to the weak in the wild. It also separates the successful from the almost made it and the excellent from the just getting by people. There are two types of communication, oral and written and both of them are crucial to success at work.
Even in our hyper-connected world, oral communication is still where the action is. We may stay in touch, exchange information, or tell the world great things through our electronic communication, but decisions are not made by text or e-mail, they are down in person. You may get dumped via text but you are not likely going to get a promotion or new clients or make that big sale on Facebook. So get off the social network for a while and do some in-person networking so that you can practice and hone your communication skills.
But while you’re on-line you might as well learn to improve your written communication as well. There is still a business etiquette that applies to all forms of written communication including e-mail, text and Twitter. Cutesy emoticons are great for your family updates but never at work. It’s a business which means business attitudes and business styles. Find out what is acceptable within your business and stick to it. Written communication at work should be professional at all times and if you want to be taken seriously you will be too.
Negotiate to Win
We start to learn to negotiate at a very young age and some people are very good at it. Think back to your kindergarten days when one kid would always be trading their apple for cookies. That kid knew how to negotiate. Flash forward to today and that same kid is probably the CEO while you are still in the mid-level ranks, still clutching your apple. The fact is that almost everything we do at work is at least part negotiation and if we figure out how to do kit well then we have a better chance of getting ahead in the rat race.
The best negotiators are those who practice win-win strategies, ones where everybody gets something out of the transaction. At work this means that we can’t trade off our poor sales accounts for better ones, although that would be nice, but we can exchange for ones that may be closer to some of our existing accounts. We also shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate. Normally this means we do not want to take the chance of losing something we already have. But if you don’t like what you have, or you want to try and improve your situation, they why not negotiate? Yes, it’s a risk but have you noticed how well the risk-takers are doing in the modern workplace?
Educate to Grow
We all know how important having a good education is to having a successful career, right? Then why do we think that we should stop learning when we get that great first job? Continuous or life-long learning is another attribute of the most successful people in the new working world. They find ways to learn new skills and new techniques or to expose themselves to new ideas and great thinkers on a regular basis. If you want to achieve your full potential then you need to add on-going education, both formal and informal to your business repertoire.

Most of these same highly successful people are also teachers themselves. They would not call themselves that but in reality they are always educating the people around them. They become the vehicles to transfer knowledge and expertise and those great new ideas to their peers and staff and subordinates. If you think about Steven Jobs at Apple or Jack Welsh at General Electric they knew that they didn’t have all the ideas themselves so they went out and found people who did. And then they made sure that everybody in Apple or General Electric would have this information as well.

This article first appeared on

Mike Martin is the author of the Windflower Mystery Series and “Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People”. For more information please visit

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1 Response to Basic Survival Skills for the Modern Workplace

  1. Pingback: Surviving in the Modern Workplace | mike54martin

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