Post by Cheryl Santa Maria, contributing Women On Business writer
I used to work in a small company with a woman named Dena. Her formal title was “senior accountant” but really, she was the jack of all trades. Dena seemed to be knowledgeable in just about every subject and she was hard-working and reliable. She’d often come into work on the weekends and stay late into the night, making sure her output was of the highest possible standard.
Dena was a model employee, that’s for sure. Our boss would often joke that the company would “fall apart” without her help and said that he wouldn’t know what he’d do without her.
Yet despite all of her merits, Dena was lacking in one very important area.
Dena had no social skills whatsoever. She interpreted small talk as a personal attack. Innocent questions like “how are you doing today?” would be answered in a defensive and snarly tone, and at times she was just plain awkward. While nobody could deny the fact that Dena was good at her job, most people would take great lengths to avoid having to speak or work with her.
I know for a fact that Dena’s lack of social skills hindered her career development. One day I was working on a project for a new client and had an accounting question. Dena would have been more than qualified to help but I asked her less-skilled counterpart instead.
It’s great to be the most capable employee in your company but if you’re unapproachable, people won’t want to work with you. In the world of business, where networking, team building and communication are essential, small talk becomes an imperative. Being friendly and easy to talk to is a great way to make yourself visible within a company and show others that you’re able to work in a team.
Professional skills are important in a competitive marketplace but they should never, ever come at the expense of good social skills.
Nice guys don’t always finish last, you know.