By Goke Ilesanmi
Communication is one of the non-material tools of building productive relationships in the workplace. This is because partnering for performance is based on building relationships and communication is one of the key elements critical to building relationships.
When you are speaking with a co-worker, you need to think of yourself sitting on a seesaw with him or her on the other end. When you dominate a conversation therefore, you appear to be a bigger person, sitting on the seesaw with a powerless person. The lighter person will not like being suspended in mid-air. It makes him or her feel powerless and small. The heavier (more knowledgeable) you are, the closer you have to move towards the other person, to balance things out.
Motion, questions and listening
When you are trying to move closer to the other person, the conversational seesaw should move up and down, so that both of you can contribute to the experience. If you are doing too much pushing, it will be too much work for you, and an out-of-control ride for the other. Joan Lloyd, a specialist in leadership development and organisational change says during the conversation, you should ask questions and listen to the answers. Asking a person questions, makes the other person feel valued and a part of the conversation. Just being the listener makes the person feel like a passive audience of one.
Beyond the issue of participatory communication is the need to discourage negative, misguided or toxic communication in our workplace because it is a threat. This type of communication is metaphorically defined as an organisational cancer that kills trust, respect, understanding, collaboration and job satisfaction. By taking firm steps to avoid negative communication, you will contribute to a better work environment where people will trust and respect you more, and offer you more of their goodwill.
Misguided or toxic communication can be disguised in various ways, such as indirect communication; character assassination; public re-dressing and e-stabbing. At this juncture, let us look at these segments.
This is the use of non-verbal messages, disapproving attitudes, critical humour or public teasing to send a veiled message to someone, instead of having a direct, face-to-face conversation with him or her.
Character assassination, public re-dressing and e-stabbing
Character assassination is simply a deliberate attempt to rubbish somebody’s reputation. Public re-dressing is about exposing someone’s private issue in the public because it is uncomfortable for you to go face-to-face with him or her. This could be reprimanding a person in front of his or her peers. E-stabbing is the distribution of a scathing email. This can also happen when you request someone’s help by email, and then copy your supervisor so that the person is forced to comply.
However, toxic or misguided communication can be eliminated through a lot of ways. One of these is to resort to direct communication and avoid sending messages that leave ambiguity in the mind of the receiver. Brady Wilson, co-founder of Juice Inc. says, “Stop character assassinations. Avoid becoming a character assassin by using this simple rule: When you speak about someone to others, picture them beside you and only say the things you would say if they were present.”
Another thing is to interrupt public re-dressing. If you are a manager, you should not discipline people in front of their peers unless the issue absolutely must be addressed publicly, in the moment, to avert a greater disaster. Another thing to do is to let e-stabbers understand the implications of using technology as a fault-broadcaster.
Communication is very crucial to the day-to-day interaction in the workplace. However, certain misguided communication styles can spell danger in the workplace. To ensure effective workplace communication, it is good to abide by the rule of participatory communication, so that disaffection that can arise from monopoly of communication, with its attendant know-it-all impression, can be avoided.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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