Social skills@work

Our etiquette expert Shital Kakkar Mehra, highlights the social skills, that as an acquaintance one can adapt to break the ice among peers.

There are several situations at work which require us to use our social skills. While these are easy to handle when interacting with coworkers we are friendly with, it’s the one who are mere acquaintances which create awkwardness. When a colleague…

Gets engaged or married: With a genuine smile, wish them warmly “Great News! All the best!” While it is expected that you will inquire about the wedding plans / future spouse, refrain from asking inquisitive questions about their economic status/in-laws. Offer no free advice on marriage!

Gets pregnant: Wait for the colleague to announce it before you congratulate her. A simple “Congratulations!” is adequate. Again, no horror stories about labour, free medical advice or stories about how babies can turn lives topsy-turvy!

When a colleague miscarries / loses a loved one: In such grievous situations, sympathy which is best expressed by a warm handshake and a genuine “I am really sorry to hear about this”. Never say “At least, the sufferings over” or the insensitive “It was a blessing / God’s will”. As these are tough losses, your colleague may need weeks before he/she bounces back. The best help is continued support and help with their office work while they come to terms with the loss.

When a colleague divorces: Listen to their anguish and help them move on with life e.g. helping file their tax returns/ claims, referring them to a support group or just being there to listen to their problems as they come to terms with their new life.
When a colleague is fired: Don’t waste time analysing the reasons for getting fired; instead, motivate them by listing their unique talents, helping them update their resume and connecting them with friends / head-hunters from your network who can help them get a new job.

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