Society celebrates poor communication. Popular movies are about ragtag groups of people working together despite intense dislike and lack of understanding, and the importance of communication is often downplayed in our schools. The point seems to be that it doesn’t matter if people understand you — if you’re justified and good at what you do, you’ll get results.
The truth is it doesn’t work that way. A recent study found that levels of workplace toxicity are a far bigger factor in productivity than workers’ abilities, and though you can’t always change at toxic employee into a positive one, you can often mitigate their damage or course correct their behavior with proper communication. We have a class on that subject, taught by Communications Analyst Dia Bondi, for sale in the Goalcast Store right now for $19.99. But we’ve picked out some other tips to get you started:
Resist The Urge Comment on Everything
Unlike publicity, there is such a thing as bad communication. Once you develop a reputation as the person who has to stick their nose in every issue that comes up, then your perspective just becomes white noise and folks start tuning you out. So pick your battles, only contribute when you’ve put a lot of thought into what you say. Think of your opinion like a precious gem: the rarer and more polished it is, the more people will care about it. As Dia Bondi put it, we need to “recognize … the value of crucial communication moments, and stop thinking of ‘presentation prowess’ as a resume add.”
There’s a difference between hearing what people say and internalizing it, thinking about it, and responding to it. Instead of keeping your opinion solid when you hear someone with a different perspective, try to incorporate that perspective into your worldview. Remind yourself that if someone else isn’t expressing themselves well or maybe getting a bit standoffish, they’re still being honest.
Bondi pointed out that it’s best to approach everyone the same, no matter their status or accomplishments. Whether she’s working with a tech company like Mozilla, an insurance company like Progressive, or the 2016 Summer Olympics, she likes to “come to you clean,” like she’s “going to a movie without watching the previews.
Pay Attention to the Argument’s Pattern
When people disagree, things tend to become circular. Ideas get more entrenched and everyone starts repeating what they think, trying to pummel their opponents into submission. If you notice this, you can often break the cycle by pointing out common ground and engendering unity.
People have a tendency to generalize when they disagree. That’s where they get trapped in ideals and false equivalencies, and suddenly you’re not just arguing about a specific workplace issue anymore — you’re trying to solve the world’s philosophical problems, and that’s no good.
The best way to resist this urge is to get specific. Keep using language that reminds everyone present (and yourself) the exact situation or problem you’re discussing, so nobody loses perspective and everyone stays on the same side. And most importantly, you should be — as Bondi advises — “unapologetically intense and unflinchingly compassionate.”
Bondi’s class Communicate Like a Boss with Dia Bond is available in the Goalcast Store for just $19.99, 59% off the $49 retail price.