Showing posts with label communication skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communication skills. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

Three Methods of Mastering Your Mouth for Career Conflict Outcomes

“It is not what you say but how you say it that counts.” Our ability to say the right things at the time they are needed is a very important skill in developing stronger working relationships and advancing our careers. Without a keen mastery of the nuances of language and the emotional intelligence to choose the right timing for choice words it will be difficult for people to advance in their careers. Mastering your mouth can have advantages in workplace conflict.

Let us assume for a minute you are sitting in a board room brooding over the decisions and comments of a meeting member. Instead of working in a collaborative manner he or she is attempting to push their weight around and bully the group into accepting their ideas as their own. This is extremely frustrating to you. The behavior is so destructive that it creates encampment on the team, raises the stress levels, and seems to make everyone agitated.

In business there may be a time and place for a pushy executive that can cram their opinions through a team to make things happen. This is most beneficial in crisis situations but destructive in strategic planning. Despite its advantages in limited situations it can also show a serious lack of respect for the abilities of others and the ability to engage a wider group of stakeholders. The emotional infant has risen.

Before becoming angry and challenging the person directly and publicly it is beneficial to first sit back and think about alternatives that may be more effective in handling this situation.  You may be screaming on the inside and wanting to push back with equal force but a pitched battle could have a disastrous result for the team and the achievement of team goals; not to mention your own career. 

In my experience there are three ways to deal with such an over aggressive person who doesn't seem to understand either the needs or concerns of others. You can 1.) confront, 2.) redirect, or 3.) befriend. Each has their own level of success in helping master the situation.

1.) Confront: Confront is the most common and entails either direct equal force verbal attacks and bullying. An eye for an eye mentality showing the other person you are not going to back down and they must accept your issues. Other variations include escalating the problem to superiors or undermining the bully in subtle ways. One may work sometimes and another may fail disastrously. When a hyper aggressive bully has no sense of common decency you may need to draw a red line and stick to it.

2.) Redirect: Redirecting is the most successful method but does take considerable skill to master well. When an pushy person is sure they are right it is often beneficial to draw them into a conversation by encouraging greater elaboration as well as questioning of their logic. Boisterous individuals love to talk about themselves and drawing them in, redirecting, and drawing in again will help slowly adjust their logic into something more beneficial for the group.

3.) Befriending: Not all pushy people are trying to force their will on others and may actually be defending their needs by posturing. If you suspect the person is really trying to do the right thing but doesn't know how to negotiate well it is better to befriend them and become a sounding board for their needs in a more appropriate manner. You may help the group better bridge the gaps between the varying parties while gaining the trust of each member.

The workplace is always full of different conflicts, problems, and personalities. With a little practice and foresight you can better manager your mouth for a higher outcome. It is an interpersonal skill that takes some time but will place you in a leadership position more through wisdom then brute strength. You will avoid destructive battles that can damage your career while improving on your leadership position within the organization.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Basic College Writing Enhances Business Course Outcomes

Business relies heavily on communication skills used in varying fields of study. Students often lack fundamental writing skills that can transfer into credibility, effectiveness and opportunity in the future. According to a 2013 paper by Dr. Carolyn Sturgeon colleges can do a better job at teaching students higher levels of written communication skills that can translate into productive projects. 

Students often resist courses in writing and English composition because they view these skills as secondary to their goals. Similar to the difficulty of getting your teenage children to throw out the trash these students are not excited about the tedious tasks of grammar, spelling, formatting, sentence structure, and citations. There is no denying that such classes are often boring and uninspiring and on the surface appear to be unnecessary.

Some students may need to complete 5-6 composition courses before effectively moving into their respective fields of study. There are other students that may not have mastered basic writing in high school and will need further remedial courses to perform at a college level. High school graduates who start at a lower rung will naturally need additional time, money and resources to improve their skills. Poor high school preparation equates directly to higher college costs. 

From the authors experience she has seen 90% of students avoid thesis writing and move more toward projects.  There is a natural avoidance of written work in classrooms as students lean more heavily on other skills. She suggests that students should be required to learn writing skills before entering their majors as this will make them more effective in their programs. 

The paper doesn’t move into this concept but it is possible to see an integration of more writing into traditional courses. For example, instead of 5-6 composition courses it may be possible to have 3 compensation courses and integrate graded writing into the colleges classes. This would require professors to understand the use of language and provide appropriate direction to students once their English composition requirements have been fulfilled to ensure they are developing their grammar, spelling, tense, clarity, formatting, and depth skills. 

Furthermore, online education is more heavily reliant on writing as part of the curriculum. It makes one wonder if graduating students are stronger at writing from an online institution than those coming from other types of universities.  Students are more likely to be judged on their individual writing skills than relying on an elite writer of a group assignment or a few assignments.

Sturgeon, C. (2013). Service courses: forays to bridge the gulf and invite new “citizens”.  CEA Forum, v42 n1 p208-245.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Communication as an Interconnected Activity of Self and Society

Each day we communicate with each other and make inroads into understanding each other. Organizations are built and maintained on the types of communication patterns people choose. As people talk about work, their lives, their hopes and their fears they make relationships and bind themselves to others. These relationships influence the culture of the organization and the effectiveness of behavior that improves upon goal attainment. The manners and styles in which we communicate will determine the effectiveness of our behavior.

Workplaces have transformed in communication to hyper information that bombards us from cell phones, face-to-face communication, email, Internet, and just about everywhere else. It hits us from all directions. The rise in the need for stronger communication abilities is apparent in the world of globalization and technology. Employers are now seeking people with emphasis on “interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate” in teams in order to achieve their collective goals (Barley & Kunda, 2001, p. 77).
Oral and face-to-face communication are still the gold standards in communicative abilities. Organizations have ranked new graduates as largely inefficient in their communication skills (The Conference Board, 2009). Therefore, the need to understand communication and those behaviors that are most beneficial is needed. This understanding raises the ability to improve upon these communication styles and create higher levels of effectiveness.

Communication behaviors doesn't work within a vacuum on their own and by themselves. They exist within an environmental context and create a sequence of events. Such behaviors are social, used to engage people, link micro actions to collective structures (Bisel, 2010). Thus, communication is a method of taking individuals and connecting them to the organizational and societal collective.

People communicate with each other for a number of personal reasons. When a person engages in communication, they seek to influence their goals, relational status among others, and their self-identity (Clark and Delia, 1979). Therefore, communication is not passive but an active aspect of modern living that is connected to both the self and collective society.

Communication also has a larger impact on the perception self and choices of behaviors. “Whatever processes may be involved in human skill learning and performance, the concern is with intentional attempts to carry out motor acts, which will bring about predetermined results” (Hargie, 2006). Therefore, communication is a precursor to actions that are goal seeking.Communication is vital to American businesses and individual needs attainment.

Communication influences the environment but also allows the environment to influence the person. It is an outward expression of inner thoughts that allows for goal attainment that further connects people to society. It is through this connection that people are able to achieve their personal and professional goals. Organizations can develop communication abilities to help enhance the efficiency of accomplishment within organizations.

Two studies by Keyton, et. al. (2013 help to highlight which communication behaviors are exhibited in the workplace and which are most successful. You may view their two studies below:

Study 1:

Two authors identified 343 communication activities from four communication textbooks. These were analyzed for relevance and a total of 163 communication behaviors were identified. Each were analyzed to determine if it was a communication activity, if they had logical opposites, and was it simple. A total of 126 participants were involved that help identify the behaviors they experienced at work.


-The top ten communication behaviors were listening, asking questions, discussing, sharing information, agreeing, suggesting, getting feedback, seeking feedback, answering questions and explaining.

Study 2:

The second study focused on trying to understand if the communication had an internal structure that allowed for the development of measurements of communication abilities. Out of 331 participants 1/3 were asked to fill out the survey that analyzed the communication styles exhibited at work. They ranked themselves on how well they did on these communication styles.


-Participants ranked their most effective behaviors as showing respect, cooperating, offering help and sharing information.

-Participants ranked their least effective behaviors as complaining, expressing frustration, relational maintenance of small talk, telling stories, and seeking approval.


Communication is a method of connecting individuals to an organization and society. By engaging and talking with people you can develop relationships with them and this further creates higher levels of social influence as well as provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their goals. Understanding communication patterns within the workplace helps in developing methods for improving such communication. Through these communication patterns, employers can encourage stronger choices and behaviors that help to achieve goals. Colleges can provide greater methodology and skill in preparing students to effectively communicate with their work environments to achieve their personal goals as well as help the organization.

Barley, S.& Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12, 76-95.

Bisel, R. S. (2010). A communicative ontology of organization? A description, history, and critique of CCO theories for organization science. Management Communication Quarterly, 24, 124-131.
Clark, R. A., & Delia, J. G. (1979). Topoi and rhetorical competence. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 65, 187-206.

Hargie, O. D. W. (2006). Communication as skilled performance. In O. D. W. Hargie (Ed.), The handbook of communication skills (3rd ed., pp. 7-28). New York, NY: Routledge.

Keyton, et. al. (2013). Investigating verbal workplace communication behaviors. Journal or Business Communication, 50 (2).

Keyton, J., & Shockley-Zalabak, P. (Eds.). (2006). Case studies for organizational communication: Understanding communication processes (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

The Conference Board. (2009). The ill-prepared U.S. workforce: Exploring the challenges of employer-provided workforce readiness training. Retrieved April 20th, 2013 from