Fixing Communication Problems At Work

Last week on my weekly web TV series, JT on Jobs, I shared with viewers the story of the time I made one of the most traumatic communication errors of my life at work as part of the show called, "3 Steps to Speaking Up at Work." (You can hear me recap that embarrassing story in the short video below.) As a result, I am passionate about helping my clients become better communicators. One of the first things I have them do when there are communication problems at work is to take a quick test called the Interaction Style Assessment Test (a.k.a. ISAT). The ISAT helps them understand what their dominant interaction style at work is and how it can be contributing to the communication problem they are experiencing. The test also helps them see how the person they are having the communication problem with at work may be different from them in terms of their interaction style. Why is understanding interaction styles so important? In my experience, the majority of communication problems that happen at work stem from people misinterpreting one another. A simple word choice, voice tone, or even the lack of facial expressions or hand gestures can cause a breakdown in communication. And, it gets even worse when the communication is electronic instead of face to face. I wish more companies and HR departments would create better on-boarding processes and team building exercises designed to get their employees to understand and accept the different interactions styles of their peers and managers. It is vital to laying a foundation for the trust needed for teams to perform at their highest level. Sadly, it feels like only the big firms with formal training programs ever do this kind of work. I guess that’s why so many of the communication problems at work that I help people deal with involve small companies where there has been no such training or team development efforts. If you’ve ever had a communication problem at work, I invite you to take the ISAT for free on my site. Hopefully, it can help you next time a problem arises!

Your Turn

What’s the worst communication problem at work you’ve ever experienced? What advice, tools and resources do you know of to help others deal with communication problems at work? What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn how to speak up at work without causing a communication problem? Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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