Seven Sins of Communication

by Apr 6, 2017

When I worked as the Director of HR for a nonprofit organization, I had an assistant by the name of Wendy.

Wendy worked hard, followed directions, asked the right questions, and we worked well together.

One day, I printed out a list of client names for Wendy. I needed her to line out certain names on the list who met certain criteria. I gave her these instructions and left her to it.

After awhile I happened to walk by her desk as I was heading out to lunch and thought I’d stop in and check on her. I distinctly remember looking down at the list on her desk and exclaiming (maybe even shrieking), “What are you doing??!! That’s not what I asked you to do!”

I was shocked that she had wasted all of that time doing this task so wrong. I’d given her such clear instructions after all.

Wendy responded by calmly saying, “Yes it is. You told me to…” and she repeated back to me, almost word for word, what I had said when I’d given her the instructions. It turned out that my instructions could be construed two ways – my way and her way – and both ways made perfect sense.

It wasn’t Wendy who was wrong, it was me. Perhaps I should have shown her one or two items so she could see what I meant. Or perhaps I should have asked her to show me one or two items so I could confirm we were on the same page.

Of course, I had to apologize for shrieking at her and for the time she’d wasted doing the project incorrectly. It was my fault she’d wasted that time, not hers.

My friend, Skip Weisman, calls this lack of specificity one of the deadly sins of workplace communication.

That’s right – I, the HR expert – committed a Deadly Sin.

It might sound dramatic, but think about it…

As a workplace communication expert for over 15 years, he hears complaints all the time from managers who say they have to ask direct reports time and again to follow through on assigned tasks, or to adjust something that was submitted because it wasn’t done properly.

That’s probably thousands, or perhaps millions, in post productivity and damaged morale.

When Skip tells these managers that it’s their own fault, sometimes they give him an angry look. Committing a deadly sin might not be easy to recognize or admit, but it’s true.

Skip actually has a total of 7 Deadly Sins… some of which are possible to commit without even realizing it.

Wonder what you or others in your organization are guilty of… and what to do about it?

Join Skip via webinar on Friday, April 28th at 10 am Pacific Time/1pm Eastern Time.

You’ll discover exactly where communication is negatively impacting your workplace most, and how to improve communication going forward.

Make sure you register for the webinar so you don’t miss your spot!

Catherine

PS. You’ll also learn some simple communication tips to apply immediately in order to improve your results! Claim your spot.

Sincerely,
Catherine

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

Do you have formal buddy system in place for your new hires?

New hire buddy systems fail when expectations of buddies are not clear, and agendas aren’t provided, so people don’t really know what to do.

As someone who specializes in coaching abrasive and aggressive leaders, I’ve noticed some patterns. Topics that continue to come up in my coaching sessions time and again. Get this. There are things your organization could be doing that actually facilitate bullying. I...

Resolving Conflict: A Case Study

One of our clients had two employees who were struggling to get along. Both employees were key contributors, and the business owner was desperate for them to resolve their differences. It all started when one employee (I’ll call her Susan) was quick to email out...

Four Steps to Dealing with Difficult People

Difficult people are everywhere. It’s likely you have encountered someone at work who struggles to connect with others in a positive way, whether because they are a downer, a one-upper, a gossip, or other reason. While difficult people come in many forms, they all...

Latest book, SEEKING CIVILITY, is released!

I have just released my latest book, SEEKING CIVILITY: How leaders, managers and HR can create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct. I thought I'd throw up a few excerpts for interest: What Bullying Is Bullying is repeated abuse that creates a...

What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Really Mean

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential to creating a positive work environment where employees are happy and thriving. We work with organizations to assess and address any issues related to DEI, and we provide training and resources to help create a...

5 Action Items for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Building a healthy workplace where employees feel appreciated and respected requires, among other things, making it diverse and inclusive. It is essential for organizations that want to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and stay competitive in today's...

Toxic Work Culture: Three Behaviors That Contribute

Way before working at Civility Partners, I suffered from a toxic work culture. Even though I loved my job, it was very tiring—emotionally, mentally, and physically. The work environment was very unhealthy, and because of that, I made the best decision of my life by...

15 Tiny Habits To Kick Off Your New Year

If you’re anything like me, you kick off your New Year with all the lofty resolutions you can think of. In theory, it’s a great way to be intentional about your future. My problem in checking off those resolutions (and maybe yours, too) is twofold. First, I set...