Workplace Communication can encompass everything from proper word choice in an email to structured leadership. My specific research in the workplace focuses on the connection between interpersonal communication and the bottom line. More often than not, the bottom line is correlated to worker satisfaction in one way or another. I have diagnosed many problems micro and macro, affecting the success of companies. Sometimes, the issues are just odd.
I dealt with a woman who used many icons to keep people away from her at work. Well and good if you are a programmer working alone on a project remotely. She was not. Let’s call her Nan. Nan worked in private industry. She was a unit organizer and responsible for a staff of ten. These ten had to interact with her and reported being unable to communicate effectively with her – ever.
Nan was dressed in some kind of ceremonial garb; no ethnicity was being represented. She had a number of strange, child-like icons on her desk and on all horizontal surfaces, not a collection so much as a menagerie of strange unrelated beings. It had been determined she was not a threat and likely not in need of psychological intervention.
Several co-workers approached her to ask questions for clarification. She answered them with a cursory word or two and always, but always ended in a return question. An example is, “If you were in charge how would you answer this question?”
One question was posed, “Nan, why do you work so hard to keep from communicating with your staff?” This could have been an off-putting approach, even untoward, but Nan understood. Cutting to the awful chase was just what she needed.
“I hate talking to people. I don’t even want to talk to you, but I know I have to. I figure if I make it really uncomfortable for people to talk to me, they’ll stop trying.”
Think about the way you are communicating at work. Are you trying to make it “really uncomfortable” or do you invite people in? My research shows the more comfortable people feel about talking at work, in other words, the less threatened they feel, the more likely they are to openly communicate, and that equals efficiency and that affects the bottom line.