|There are many instances when leaders and employees encounter a difficult situation and make it more complicated because they don't practice effective communication skills. This doesn't happen because they're trying to make things more difficult, it's usually because they don't have any other method of dealing with things.
We're not really taught how to talk with co-workers or clients when things get heated so our workplace interactions are usually either pleasant or unpleasant. Here are a couple scenarios that occur in our workplaces to illustrate the difference between effective and non-effective communication and bring balance back into the equation.
The Client Complaint
A. Without Effective Communication: A client has a problem with your product or service and is irate. She is angry at us and demands that something be done to fix it immediately. You feel personally attacked so you argue back or try to provide justifications for why the event happened or how it pertains to your policies. This has the effect of making the client more angry. The situation keeps escalating until at least one person ends up dissatisfied.
B. With Effective Communication: The client is angry so you listen and empathize with them. When they are done talking you don't rebut or try to explain anything, you simply ask them what they would like to happen and you work with them to create a positive result. You listen and ask for their feedback along the way.
A Conflict with a Co-Worker
A. Without Effective Communication: You're angry at a co-worker because she said something rude and won't apologize. You refuse to talk with her but you're happy to tell other people how horrible she is. She does the same and soon there's this huge cloud of discomfort whenever you're both in the same room. You don't talk about the situation with her and actually do your best to avoid her.
B. With Effective Communication: You invite your co-worker to have a conversation about what happened. You listen actively to their perspective and don't minimize or argue with it. You both work together to find a solution to move forward.
The standard way of working on communication glitches in the workplace is to cover them up or hope they'll go away. The problem with this approach is that the communication issues simply get worse or fester for years, diminishing our workplace productivity and morale. The paradox is that, if you practice effective communication, you'll be able to defuse these situations and move past them much more easily. What will you do to practice effective communication and actually talk when difficult situations arise?