Communication is connection with ideas, information, and other people.
But how good is the connection when you communicate?
Can you bring out the best in others, and influence situations positively?
To be a great communicator, you need to know yourself; what are your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors really conveying? You need to understand others; what messages are they sending? Finally, you need to determine if there`s a good connection for messages to flow clearly, and what to do if the connection is broken.
Poor communication is expensive. When you send messages that are unclear or incomplete, for example, you will have to deal with misunderstanding, duplication of effort, or conflict, all of which halt productivity.
Great communicators always exert a positive influence in their interactions, whether they are communicating by text, email, or the spoken word. They understand the power of connection between people, and always strive to maximize it to everyone`s benefit. They bring out the best in everyone, and in every situation.
The Communicating Edge:
The "Dear Janet" Advice Column for
Communicating at Work
I`ll be bringing you great tips and advice to make your workday easier and better - and inviting your questions and suggestions too!
What is The Communicating Edge?
Here`s what to expect:
With broad experience in human relations, three university degrees, and many years` experience teaching, author Janet Desautels offers practical advice to help readers improve their communication skills at work so they can create better connections with people, save time, and get more done. Her lively Q & A advice column addresses everything from how to handle a peer`s angry outbursts to the best way to deliver bad news to a supervisor. Janet delivers her insights, peppered with useful tips, in her characteristically engaging style.
The Communicating Edge: Culture of Complaint at the Office
I`m a new supervisor at my company. Unfortunately, my department has an entrenched “culture of complaint”, and I`d like to turn that around. A former manager of mine used to say, “Don’t come to me with problems – bring solutions.” I`d like to take that approach, too, but I fear that might just drive the complaints underground and make things worse. What can I do to break the complaining habit in my team? C.F.
Here`s the golden rule for workplaces – and everywhere else, actually:
Never complain. Instead, ask for what you want directly.
If you secretly cringe inside at the thought of asking for what you want, you have hit on the real source of the problem. (see more on Communicating Edge page)
The Communicating Edge: Survival Tip for Compassionate People in Conversation
Friends and colleagues come to me with their problems. They usually want advice or a sounding-board, and I`m usually happy to help, but I think it`s exhausting me. I have lots of conversations all day where I’m being really supportive of one person or another, and afterward, they feel better but I`m tired and kind of “gray” feeling. It feels like the nicer I am, the worse I feel. I don’t want to be rude and turn them away, but I can’t keep this up. Any suggestions?
In need of a mental holiday,
It sounds like you a compassionate person. You care about how others are feeling, and want to be supportive whenever you can. It`s a great feeling to know you`re making the world a better place by helping someone in need.
Many well-meaning compassionate people get depleted; they give and give till the proverbial well runs dry. (Read more..)
The Communicating Edge: I've Had Enough Verbal Abuse!
Where I work, clients sometimes have to line up for a long time, and by the time they get to me, they`re really angry. I am often subjected to verbal abuse as a result. What do I do when someone yells at me? I have had enough of being abused and insulted. I can’t shout back, and “the customer is always right” in my company. How can I set boundaries and stop these people from abusing me? I don’t get paid enough for this!
Dear Oppressed (K.B.),
Some things just make us want to pull the covers up over our heads and hide when we wake in the morning. This is one of those things.
With angry people, as quickly as possible redirect their aggressive blast toward constructive solutions. (Read more...)
Listen to Change a Difficult Dynamic
I’ve been working with “S” for 6 months on a project. She is almost impossible to work with; she shoots down my ideas and insists hers are better (they`re not). Even though I have more experience than she does, I have to find a way to cooperate on this because officially we`re “equals”, and we`re both responsible for the project deadline and results. Help!
At wit`s end,
Dear Wit`s End:
Even though this may be tough to hear, you need to really listen to her first, before you do anything else. Ask her what she thinks, and why she thinks that, and – here`s the hard part - do this with sincere interest in understanding where she`s coming from. I suspect she`s already talked your ear off about how great her ideas are, or maybe she simply overrides you without explaining. In either case, it sounds like she`s trying to prove something – to herself or the world, we just don’t know.
The most relevant thing is your project. You need to get it done, and you need to cooperate with her in the process. It is essential you keep this as your main focus, because that keeps your communicating purposeful. You don’t need to like her, or her approach, to work really well together. (read more...)
How Can I Avoid Choosing Sides?
Whatever is in the news is a hot topic in my office. Sometimes we all have different opinions, and there`s lots of friendly debate and laughter about our differences. But now and then, people take things personally, and a friendly disagreement turns nasty. I try to avoid this whenever possible, but often there`s no escape, and I`m forced into the debate, and expected to take a side. When I do, I`ve in effect made “enemies” of the “other side” for the rest of the day, till cooler heads prevail. I hate this – can you give me pointers on staying out of the fray?
Wanting to be Neutral,
Opinions are a real barrier to communicating. Most of us have been taught that having an opinion is a great thing. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, the saying goes. It`s great to have preferences- after all, it`s nigh impossible to get through a day without making constant choices between what you like most and least. Imagine grocery shopping without preferences! They help us navigate infinite choices about what to do and think, moment by moment.
But opinions are different (read more..)
How Do I Respond to a Colleague`s Crazy Opinions?
“Isn’t that interesting!”
“I have never thought of it that way before.”
“Wow, you`ve really given this some thought, haven’t you?”
“How about that.”
“That`s really something, isn’t it?”
“Is that right?”
It doesn’t matter how long you`ve known someone – one day, they`ll pop out with a comment or opinion that shocks you. It might be a surprisingly naive perspective on world affairs, or a biased view of someone, or a tasteless comment. One thing you can rely on, though, is their fondness for their own opinion.
Before you respond, think carefully about what your objective in communicating really is. (read more...)
How Do I Deal With a Negative Co-Worker?
I work with a woman who`s a vortex of negativity. She`s grumpy, bossy, and angry. When I get to work each morning, I have to go into the main admin office where she works (can’t avoid it) and it drags me down the rest of the day. The minute I get in there I feel ill – like the air around her is toxic. I try to be positive, but I always end up feeling terrible. It affects my mood for the rest of the day, so I end up tired at best, and grumpy at worst. Is there something I can say to her to make her be less toxic?
Grumpy people emanate grumpy communications – which create grumpy problems with everyone affected by them. The same applies to “Eeyore” personalities – everything they write, say and do pulls everyone down. The very air around them seems gray.
There is more going on in communication than meets the naked eye. (read more...)
Emails For Short Attention Spans
How do I get people to read my emails properly the first time? Here`s how it goes: I send messages to people in my office, and based on their replies, it`s obvious they didn’t read what I said. They ask questions I already answered, they report back on only half of the items I specified, or they ignore entire paragraphs. I keep having to re-explain the points I made in the first email. This redundant correspondence is taking up a lot of my time. – any tips on getting better results with emails?
Chances are good you are putting too much information in each email. People are busy – please assume your average recipient has the attention span of a gnat. Assuming this does two things ... (read more..)
Nobody Listens to Me!
My team at work has a few...shall we say....dominant personalities who tend to override everybody else, especially during meetings. I can avoid them most of the time, but these meetings are driving me crazy. Every time I offer a suggestion, one of these characters interrupts, or discounts me completely (read more...)
Communicating Advisor, Author, Facilitator
Bring out the Best:
Communicating with Positive Purpose
Whether you are writing, speaking to a group, or having a conversation, great communication starts with you.
To communicate well, ask yourself these questions:
Are your thoughts clear?
Is your purpose clear?
Why are you communicating? What do you want?
What is your emotional state?
What is your body saying?
What words are you using? In what order?
What is the context? (office? airport? party? intimate?)
Are you aware of the signals you are sending?
If there are differences and conflict, ask yourself:
Is your behavior passive, assertive, or aggressive?
What is your world view?
What is your story?
Can you build a bridge between different positions and perspectives?
Do you want to?
* See Workshops page for customized courses you can schedule to help you on your way to being a great communicator.
Do you want peace of mind and success in all your relationships - despite cultural differences, personality conflicts, and differences of opinion?
Dancing with Differences has the solution!
In Dancing with Differences, Janet Desautels soothes you, stretches you, and expands your perspective. This valuable, wise, and practical approach to human relations helps you in all areas of your life. Readable, story-filled and entertaining, Dancing with Differences shows you how to take differences lightly. If you can conserve energy by allowing people to be who they are, and direct your focus purposely toward success, your relationships become constructive and rewarding
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Dancing with Differences is a powerful, well-crafted and straightforward manual to guide you in navigating the waters of interpersonal experience. Highly recommended."
ALEX VAN TOL, author of Oracle, Redline, and Knifepoint
Contributing Expert in Imagine: 30 Days to a New You (Motivational Press, 2016)
Imagine is a collection of cutting-edge tips, tools and strategies from the world’s leading experts in success, business, leadership, self-help, and health. It is designed to guide you to your highest and best self. Read a chapter, and take action, then read another chapter, and take more action. Soon enough, you’ll be amazed at the life you’ve created! Contributing Experts to IMAGINE Include: Lew Bayer, Terri Levine, Tracy Spears, Janet Desautels, Doug Sandler, Wally Schmader, and more.....