How not to communicate in the office

2013-11-21 13:06

We are a culturally rich country with equally diverse workplaces. I love the spirit of inclusivity we’ve fostered in SA but it doesn’t come without its problems. A big stumbling block that immediately comes to mind is the issue of the lack of effective communication in our companies. Do you recognise these archetypical employees in your organisation who you need to kick back to communication 101?

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your office down!

Beware of the arrogant employee who bursts into your office and immediately, with all guns blazing, starts shouting at you, volubly demanding why you’ve taken a particular action when, in previous discussions, you two ‘agreed’ something completely different (more often than not, huffy twists things around to suit himself).

Don’t, whatever you do, start shouting at this person with equal velocity or, worse still, break down into tears of frustration. This won’t solve anything as, more than likely, it will encourage huffy to keep on going. Rather, let him say what he needs to say so he runs out of steam and then, when he’s finally winded, state your side of the story. Don’t even attempt to try and play the same underhanded game he’s spent years perfecting – chances are very good that you won’t win.

I’m going to stick my feet where they don’t belong

There’s another sneaky employee – I like to call her big foot - who will try to manipulate another employee – her non de plume will be Taylor Swift - to do what she wants. However, the tragedy is big foot gets away with her lies and manipulative acts because Taylor believes that big foot is her friend and she is ‘looking out’ for Taylor. The scary part is that when BF has a vendetta against another employee, she will use Taylor against that person.

If you’re in the unfortunate position of being on the receiving end of a BF special, don’t react to them emotionally! If needs be, wait until you have calmed down and are able to deal with them unemotionally and rationally. If you’re in the equally unfortunate position of being in the Taylor Swift position, don’t feel guilty that you let yourself be used by a big foot-lookalike: she is highly manipulative and it’s not easy to discover what her real motives are.

The bottom line is that we need to treat each other with courtesy and respect, and if we do this, effective communication will follow. We need to stop fighting against each other and realise that we’re all working towards a common goal.

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