Poor Communication at Work

Poor communication is the root cause of so many problems. Which is a shame because it's a problem that is easily solved. How? By listening.

Listening is one of the most important interpersonal skills.

If you are being misunderstood – the problem is usually that you haven’t bothered to find out what the other person’s frame of reference is. Instead of getting frustrated, step back from your need to be heard, and start asking them questions. Finding out what the other person is thinking and responding too goes a long way and there is a reason Socrates encouraged the asking of questions.

The other thing to do is to let go of your ego. When we have a disagreement with someone we tend to view this as we are right and they are wrong and we ascribe a moral dimension to the conflict. It is imperative we win. When we let go of our ego we no longer need to be right.  It allows us to view the other person, not as an enemy, but as a coworker who simply has a different opinion. We can then start asking questions (to find out what they know that we don’t) so that we can hopefully solve the problem. A person who is focused on problem solving isn’t focused on being right. They are focused on learning what they need to learn to solve the problem. This shift in mindset solves most of our communication problems.

Regarding dealing with someone else who is a poor communicator. Again, ask questions. Seek clarification. Communication takes 2 people.  Don’t put the onus on the other person to improve so that you can understand them. Make an effort to understand them and you do that, by asking questions!!!! Without an ego!  Genuinely seek to find out what they know and why they think they way they do. Not so you can win an argument, but so that you can more effectively communicate with them by finding out from them, what they need from you to be understood.

I teach humanistic management and do offer online communication courses and courses in socratic jujitsu as well as programs for managers on how to communicate effectively as a manager.


Ethics in the Workplace

I teach humanistic business management and am a Humanist. Ethics is central to everything we do.

Whether your ethics are explicit or not, you have a set of ethics you live by and these ideas of what is right and wrong help you make decisions. All the time.  Little decisions and big decisions. The problem in a workplace or group setting is that different people in the group have different ethics. And, we humans are herd animals, meaning, we observe what the social norms are and we go with them to not stand out. Obviously, there are individuals who don’t go with the flow, but most of us can be convinced to say 2+2 equals 5 if we are in a group of people who seem to fervently believe that is so.

This go with the flow instinct we have impacts how ethics manifest in the workplace. If what we observe is people being unethical, we assume that is accepted in this social group. It is therefore super important for people who care about values to do 3 things.

1)      Make the values of the organization explicit. Meaning, sit down and think about what you value in person to person relationships and make that explicit. How are we going to make decisions? What are we going to value in our decisions? How much money we can make? Whether or not we are helping the company? Whether or not we are helping our boss? Whether or not we are helping our customer? Whether or not we are helping the environment? What do we do when our values come in conflict? Which values should dictate our decision?

2)      Actively make decisions based on your explicit value statement!  Where most companies go wrong isn’t in the creation of a value statement, it is in the fact that they don’t actively use their values in decision making. When they don’t, it becomes clear to everyone that the value statement is just a piece of paper, but that the organization doesn’t really make decisions that way. You can change that by actively invoking the values in every day decision making. If someone is gossiping, the response is – we treat people with respect. When deliberating on a decision – the question asked out loud is – how do our different options relate to our values statement? What is the ethical decision to make? Do this – and the culture starts to change. It also means that we should not tolerate bad interpersonal behavior or “cheating” just because someone is a manager or a high performer. You either actively value your values or you don’t. This has to come from the top.

3)      Change management. There is a science to this and it involves changing the herd norm. You don’t need everyone to be on board to get this started. You just need some core people to implement it and create a new cultural norm of ethical decision making and interpersonal relationships. Their job is to discuss and make active the values and to enforce them through social discussion and decision making. Once people see that – yes, these values are actually valued, they will start to self-enforce these new ethical norms. Probably the most difficult part of this is being willing to let go of the people in your organization who are unethical and don’t change. If you keep them around, they will continue to exert social pressure towards unethical behavior and instead of having an ethical company – you will continually be fighting them. They aren’t worth it. If they can’t behave ethically, let them go.

Resources for parents whose kids are being bullied

I teach how to use behavioral psychology (operant conditioning) to stop bullying and harassment. I have quite a bit of free content available if you are looking for help.

53 short video tips to stop bullying using operant conditioning - https://bullyvaccineproject.com/53bullyingtips/

2 free short courses for parents - https://bullyvaccineproject.com/how-to-talk-to-your-childs-school-so-they-will-actually-listen-and-help/

And https://bullyvaccineproject.com/what-to-do-if-your-child-is-a-bully/ (these do require signin – but it is free)

A slideshare – how to stop bullying – a guide for bystanders - http://www.slideshare.net/JenniferHancock1/how-to-stop-bullying-a-guide-for-bystanders

A free ebook - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/633104

A free course at Udemy - https://www.udemy.com/stopbullyingwithscience/

Please share and let people know there are things they can do that will actually help.

Managing Older People

How to handle managing people who are older than you? It's an issue some of millennial have dealt with. A lot of this is about respect. This is what humanistic management and leadership is all about.

If there isn’t respect, the relationship won’t work. Doesn’t matter if it’s an older person managing a younger person or a younger person managing an older person.  The manager has to respect the employee or the relationship will be bad.

We are all different. We all have different experiences, knowledge bases and biases. Older people experienced different things than younger people did. They have different fears. But we are all still human and our basic emotional toolkit is the same regardless.

When managing someone, you have to find out what scares them and what excites them and how they as an individual need to be respected. Without knowing that, you won’t be a good manager. And again, it doesn’t matter what your age is – this is about getting to know the individual and not making assumptions about them.

If your staff member makes assumptions about you – fine. Don’t compound that mistake by making assumptions about them. Take the time to get to know them and respect their experience and what they know and have learned along the way. That way – you can utilize all the skills they bring to the table. That’s good management.


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