Find your style

Last week a colleague mentioned how she found my writings in Reputation Today to be simple worded, sans jargon. I said that I write from the heart and the words just flow (I felt my own writing was far too simplistic). I was flummoxed when she then added that she wished to see more of this side of me at work! It made me reflect – how do I come across at work? What is my style taken to be as? 

The role of a communicator calls for super skills of collaboration and facilitation. Let us reflect whether we are facilitators or whether we fall into a trap with the consequence that the outcome is entirely different to what we aspire for from our coworkers. I have listed below six interventions that we face in our professional journey and irrespective of where we are in that journey, we need to be conscious of the traps that we can easily fall into.

  • Giving guidance 

Some time or the other, we all need guidance and seek expert advice from leaders/mentors who can show us the direction or who can nudge us softly when we seem to lose our way. Guidance is best received when the leader/mentor is motivational and is able to clearly explain the rationale.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Giving unwanted advice
  • Making the other person dependent on you
  • Coming across as a controlling and intimidating ‘know all’ person


  • Giving information

During our career we often search for information. There are times when I am stuck and I turn to my coworkers for help. We all need that little extra help.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Relying on jargon and not simplifying information
  • Giving completely unstructured information
  • Being all over the place with information that is not sought


  • Challenging coworkers

It is important that we challenge assumptions, we ask ‘why’, seek alternatives and do not accept the status quo. By asking direct questions and giving constructive feedback, we can challenge our coworkers to rethink and be self aware.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Behaving like a parent and rebuking
  • Making a mountain out of a mole hill (spending too much time on trivial issues)
  • Coming across as punitive


  • Being motivational

All of us look up to leaders/colleagues who motivate and inspire; those who push us to do our best and those who encourage failures; albeit we learn from them. We seek out people who are empathetic to our situations and who are able to create a supportive climate.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Not listening
  • Coming across as too personal (thin line here!)
  • Not open to receiving feedback


  • Encouraging accountability

When we work collaboratively and in a cross functional role, it can sometimes become messy to pinpoint where the responsibility actually lies. Passing the buck for lack of concrete actions becomes the norm and accountability goes for a toss. It is important we work in a way that ensures people remain committed to their tasks.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Asking too many close ended questions
  • Being prescriptive
  • Allowing your own curiosity to take over and making our own assumptions


  • Building self-confidence

As human beings, we crave recognition for our work. We are encouraged to take risks only if we are appreciated as appreciation boosts our self-confidence. Apologising for mistakes inadvertently caused, working on your own ‘self respect’ and being supportive of others is something we all need to continuously work on.

Beware of the trap of…

  • Overdoing it and coming across as a fake
  • Sounding too patronising
  • Giving mixed signals of being there and yet not being there

There are many different ways in which we act with our colleagues and coworkers.
Be self-aware and develop a style that brings out the best of you and the best in others.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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