Q: I was just terminated. I received no severance. I was terminated and given pay for what vacation days I didn’t take. I was told the termination was for my poor communication skills and how I work with others. I know I am an introvert and that is why I became an engineer. I prefer to avoid interactions with others. Instead, I like to focus on my work and complete tasks. I thought I should have received coaching or counseling. Can my employer do this to me?
A: Most employees in the US are employed “at-will,” which means either the employee or employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason. Severance is typically not legally required unless you have signed an employment agreement or are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. One of your weaknesses may be communication skills. Rather than avoiding social interactions, it may be worth developing communication skills.
Think about how to be a good listener. Eye contact is important. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation demonstrates interest in what another person is saying. Non-verbal gestures and movements also send a message. Do you cross your arms (which can sometimes signal I am really closed or not listening to what you are saying)? Ways to improve your listening skills including monitoring your eye contact and your body language. If you have the capability, videotape yourself during a conversation. Do you look receptive to what the other person is saying or are you sending signals (maybe even unconsciously) that you are disinterested?
Like other skills, communication skills can be improved upon. Take it seriously. You don’t want to be terminated again on a skill that you most certainly can develop.
by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC
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