How to Have More Good Days at Work

What’s the difference between a good day at work and a bad day? Usually – communication. On a good day, you move towards the outcomes you want, people/things tend to flow with you and you may even have some interesting or fruitful conversations. On a bad day, nothing turns up as you expect, people seem to be putting obstacles in your way, and your conversations seem littered with misunderstandings and muddle. So how do we get more of the good days?

Recently, I’ve been looking at what is good communication and how to create it around you. Among the myriad of advice available one thing stands out as key – know your outcome. Some of you may be more familiar with Stephen Covey’s Principle: “Begin with the end in mind”. Whether you are creating the perfect Board paper to get that funding approved or you are popping into a colleague’s office to ask a favour, being clear about what you want to happen is key to your chances of success.

It is important to distinguish your long-term outcome from what may be a short-term desire. If you are writing a paper seeking funding, your short-term desire may be to get through this bureaucratic hurdle and get on with your proper job! But, upon reflection, your long-term outcome might be to have company leaders who are making good, balanced decisions so we all have futures with the company. Or it may be to be seen by the current leaders as an excellent future leader yourself. The outcome you focus on will affect the way in which you approach communication – and thereby the result you get.

Once you know your outcome, the next key question is where the recipient of your communication is in relation to that outcome?  Clearly, if they are already familiar with the idea or half-way towards it, your communication will be different than if they are hearing it the first time. But have you considered their expectations of the “right way” to communicate something? How many times have you seen someone end up angry when being told good news just because the “process” was wrong for them? For example, if you want a positive long-term relationship with your future father-in-law, you might want to know if, when and how he would like to be told that you plan to marry his daughter! 

So remember the golden rules:

  1. Think outcome - short-term & long-term
  2. Think about the recipient in relation to that outcome?
  3. Consider the best words (content), style and process to help the recipient move towards the outcome you want

Have lots of good days!

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