I’ve recently been engaged to resolve an employment issue arising from a personality clash – essentially there are two people who have to work in close proximity with frequent interaction, and they just don’t get on.
There was no catalyst to the breakdown in communication – after all, no single raindrop is responsible for a flood. But rather it was a sequence of events that resulted in a strained working relationship with communication at the heart of the issue. This was not a situation where one person was clearly at fault, and both parties felt the blame lay with the other person.
In an attempt to resolve the situation, we held a team meeting where both parties spoke about what they felt constituted an effective team, and what they felt could be done differently to improve the effectiveness of their team. Communication was identified as the #1 barrier to being a well functioning team. Through the discussion, it was important for both employees to understand that sometimes the way a communicator intends to deliver a message, is not the way it is received by the recipient. Being ‘direct’ in one person’s view, can be interpreted as aggressive to someone else. The discussion revealed each person reacted differently when they felt they were being spoken to in what they perceived as rude or disrespectful – one shut down and spoke very little, the other raised her voice more. And while very different, both responses were not constructive in improving the dialogue.
We used the meeting to openly talk about how the employees prefer to be spoken to, and we put strategies in place to improve how they delivered a message to generate the desired response.
As they say, 50% of great relationships is how you treat someone, and the other 50% is having the ability to communicate how you’d like to be treated. Communication is an art. It takes practice and it can be a learnt skill.
Through facilitating these discussions, both employees gained a greater appreciation for the other’s natural style, and preferred style, to enable them both to master the art of communication.
Tags: employee relations