Communication Key to Building a Positive Reputation at Work, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- What you say and how you say it can make or break your image at the office, a new survey suggests. Nearly half (49 percent) of workers polled said a person's communication style has the greatest impact on his or her professional reputation. How employees conduct themselves while the boss is away was the second most popular answer, with 31 percent of the response.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 567 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed full time in professional environments. These findings are part of OfficeTeam's Career Makeover 2002 project, in recognition of Administrative Professionals Week (April 21-27).

Workers were asked, "Which one of the following has the greatest impact in shaping one's professional reputation? " Their responses: 

Communication style   49%
How the person conducts himself when the boss is out of the office   31%
How often others consult with the person for advice and information   15%
Personal grooming   3%
Something else   1%
Don't know/no answer   1%

"Skilled communicators are able to build rapport with coworkers and business associates, which can help move projects along more efficiently," said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam. "They know whose expertise to tap when they need assistance and are adept at resolving conflicts and building consensus among team members."

Hughes offers the following tips for more effective communication: 

  • Keep it short - Whether it's an e-mail, voice mail or face-to-face meeting, make your comments brief and salient. Busy executives and staff appreciate people who can get right to the point.
  • Play nice - Don't forget to say "please" and "thank you," and do what you can to help those who need assistance. If you go out of your way for people, they're apt to return the favor.
  • Be a wordsmith - Choose your words carefully when e-mailing, since written messages often appear more severe than intended. If you're requesting action, make sure it's clear what is needed. Also, be concise in your correspondence. Proof messages twice (once with the computer spell-checker, then with your own eyes) to catch any errors.
  • Listen up - Give those with whom you speak your undivided attention. Resist the temptation to finish others' sentences or formulate your own responses while they are talking. 

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at Additional details on Administrative Professionals Week and the Career Makeover 2002 project are also available on the web site.

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