Mentoring & Networking Relationships & Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace

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  • 0:00 Communication in the Workplace
  • 0:44 Communication & Mentoring
  • 2:49 Networking & Communication
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Communication is vital for maintaining professional relationships. In this lesson, explore how to use communication in mentors and networking, and test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Communication in the Workplace

See this? This is an extremely average, mid-level company. And this is John Study, an extremely average mid-level employee. John Study is in an average middle-management position, which means that on an average day he has to deal with a lot of people; people above him, people working for him, perhaps people working with him. You get the idea. So, with all of these people he has to deal with, John Study's success really relies on his skills at interpersonal communication, the direct sharing of information between people. You see, John Study understands that good communication is the difference between just being average and really standing out.

Communication and Mentoring

One area where we see communication become very important in the workplace is through mentoring, advising or training, generally on a personal basis. Now, John Study, being in an average mid-level position, gets to be both a mentor and a mentee and he's going to need communication skills for each. As a mentee, John Study's main priority is active listening, which is defined by both demonstrating that the listener is paying attention and connecting words with an emotional response. This means that you are internalizing the information, not just vaguely hearing it. Active listening helps John Study to actually retain information from his mentor but also demonstrates that he is interested and invested in this relationship.

But that's just one side of it. As a mentor, John Study also needs to practice active listening, but for slightly different reasons. Active listening as a mentor requires being empathetic towards the needs of the person you are mentoring and using that empathy to create a professional relationship built on trust and understanding. Basically, use it to help you address the specific needs of your mentee. Mentors can often foster this relationship using the reciprocity theory, which states that people are likely to react in a similar way to others. Here's out it works: John Study is trying to build up a mentoring relationship, so he needs his mentee to feel comfortable. So John Study decides to talk about himself just a little knowing that according to reciprocity theory, it will encourage the mentee to open up about their own interests. John Study talks a bit more, the mentee shares a bit more, and they build up their ability to communicate openly. John Study can also use this technique to start steering the conversation in a direction he needs it to go in order to discuss the relevant items on their agenda, while still keeping communication casual and personal.

Networking and Communication

Being a mentee helps John Study learn more about the company. Being a mentor helps him pass on his knowledge. But both of these are great for networking, developing systems of interconnected relationships. Professional success very often depends on maintaining networks of professional contacts on whom you can rely for various kinds of support. Being both a mentor and a mentee helps John Study maintain multiple professional networks among both his superiors and the younger, up-and-coming generation.

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