Top 9 Communication Tips for Executive and Administrative Assistants

by Joan Burge | Founder & CEO, Office Dynamics International


Establishing rapport is critical to attaining successful business and personal relationships. While everyone must competently use today’s information technology tools, too many of us are ignoring the proven importance and effectiveness of interpersonal communication skills.

1.) Try being more specific in what you say.

Speak for yourself; don’t use vague generalizations about people. This would be especially important if you are speaking to someone who needs details. You may not always know if the person you are speaking to is more of a “big picture” or “detailed” thinker. But if you really pay attention to people and listen, you can determine if they have a preference.

2.) Pay attention to what is happening in the present moment within yourself, in the other person, and between the two of you.

How many times are you paying attention to other things or letting thoughts get in your way of concentrating on the immediate? In this age of constant distraction, it takes concentrated effort to be in the moment.

3.) To be effective, if you do have a criticism to make, first get yourself taken seriously as an expert or trusted friend.

It is very difficult for someone to listen to our critique of them or something they have done if they don’t trust us, respect us or view us as a credible source. First, work on those three things (trust, respect, being credible) and then it will be easier to give feedback.

4.) People usually want support, approval, and agreement. Be as generous with these as you can.

5.) Take time and effort to know what you want to communicate.

Do not operate mouth until brain is in gear. Star and world class assistants think before they speak, in most instances. Make sure you do not just blurt out what is on your mind as you can hurt someone or create a barrier. When we are communicating with others, we want to be heard. We want people to be open to what we have to say or get them to take action. This especially applies in an email. Take your time to craft your message.

6.) Give your work partner time and space to communicate.

Don’t interrupt or complete his/her sentences. How many times do you jump in before someone has finished their thought? Or you think you know exactly what they are going to say next? We all do it by habit. You will get more out of a conversation if you let the other person say what they need to say.

7.) Face the fact that the message you think you are receiving is not always the message sent.

It is good to clarify what you think you heard. This can save you rework, errors or moving in the wrong direction on a task or assignment.

8.) Ask yourself if your goal is to communicate or to win.

This is especially important during conflict resolution. When we have conflicting views or opinions, usually our goal is “someone has to win and someone has to lose. I want to win; therefore, you have to lose.” This solves nothing. Often when we focus us making sure the other person understands our message or point of view, we win.

9.) Watch out for anger and resentment as barriers.

Do you hold grudges? Did someone at work say something that upset you? Or maybe they ignored you and that bothered you. Hidden anger or resentment will create barriers. Use assertive communication skills to manage these situations.

IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

If you’d like to attend one of these events, you can find one in your area here.

About Joan: Joan Burge is known as the red-lipstick-wearing Rock Star and visionary of the administrative profession. Joan is an accomplished author, speaker, and coach. Her company, Office Dynamics, is a leader in the development and presentation of sophisticated training programs and information for administrative office professionals.

You can connect with Joan and Office Dynamics International on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.


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