Communicate for Bottom
Line Results: How to Solve Your Workplace Communication Problems
By Shari Frisinger
Meetings that drag
on … team frustration and stress from lack of direction … important
issues being pushed to the side… do these situations sound familiar?
When time is wasted, directions are unclear, and re-work is costly,
it usually means one thing: a lack of clear communication.
Unfortunately, companies of all sizes experience this issue, from
Fortune 100 corporations to mom-and-pop businesses.
To strengthen your
workplace relationships, increase productivity, add money to the
bottom line, and garner loyalty from team members, you need to learn
how to effectively listen and communicate. The best thing is, it
won’t cost you money! You simply need time and focus.
Many times, what
happens during a conversation is we are in tune with the
other person, but they are not granting us the same courtesy.
Whether intentional or not, these cause barriers in our
conversations. So, how do we maintain a professional and productive
communication while addressing the issue at hand? How can we get
back on track?
Here are a few of
examples of complicated communication issues, and solutions on how
No Gray Allowed:
when someone interprets a situation as clearly either [a] or [b].
In their mind, there is no other option or gray area.
The department policy is to not pay employees for mileage. If,
however, the employee picks up catering or something else needed for
a meeting, mileage will be paid. Employee Sally picks up catering
and submits for what is perceived as a high mileage expense. When
she is asked about it, her response is “OK then - I won’t submit any
more expenses …. I’ll use my own gas to get whatever is needed.”
“Sally that’s not what I’m saying. I really appreciate your picking
up these items for the meeting. We all work together as a team and
rely on each other to do these things. It’s just with the cost of
gas rising, going far out of our way to pick up something that is
comparable and can be purchased closer is what we need to do….”
“Not a big deal”:
the challenge you are experiencing is not taken seriously by the
other person, usually an authority figure. He uses pseudo-optimism
to try and placate you so you will leave him alone.
“With these changes to the next meeting, I won’t be able to get
prepared for the one after that … remember, they are nearly
back-to-back.” He says: “Sure you can … the changes are not that
extensive and you know exactly what you are doing. Plus you have
such a way with people!”
Ask if you have his undivided attention. Repeat your original
statement more firmly. Ask specifically for help in solving this
When someone wants to debate a topic for the sake of debating or
challenges what you say.
Anybody have good recommendations for hotels in Billings MT?
Salesperson #1: The
is the best place to stay.
Why do you say that? I stayed there once and won’t stay again. The
Hilton is much better because …..
Salesperson #1: I’ve never stayed at the Hilton there.
Salesperson #2: Well you should .... your hotel doesn’t have
nearly the same amenities or level of service as….
The best thing to do is to acknowledge the other person’s
perspective and end the conversation gracefully. He enjoys debating
and will take whatever you say as an indication that you, too, want
to debate this point. He may not understand that it’s ok to have
When the person you are talking with immediately feels she has to
solve your problem. There are other reasons you may be
communicating, such as to vent, to work a problem out, to bounce
ideas off someone, to share a triumph, to get reassurance or
empathy. What you are looking for from the other person is for her
to just listen.
Employee #1: I’m
having trouble creating a new sales pitch for the car dealership
Employee #2: Well,
have you thought about their new ad slogan? You can use that to help
close the deal … also, keep in mind, they seem to like using their
company president as spokesperson.
“I understand you want to give me the answers. I think I already
fixed the problem, but can you hear me out and let me know what you
think of how I handled it?”
These four tactics
are just some of the ways we can use to get the conversation back on
track. Instead of having our meetings ramble on, or allowing
miscommunication between employees and leaders, we can all hone our
listening and communication skills to make sure we are heard – loud
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