Communication is a Hot Topic

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We cover a lot of topics in this TribeHR blog: from workplace accommodation to the impact of catching a few zzzz’s on productivity.

Along the way we touch issues of leadership and workplace power dynamics, as well as more traditional HR management concerns like effective onboarding and employee engagement.  

While all articles garner a fair amount of interest and certain subjects clearly trend based on the latest HR research or what’s in the news, one topic—communications—is consistently popular. Whether we write about different communication styles, offer Powerpoint “dos and don’ts”, or provide tips for dealing with conflict in the workplace, articles related to communication invariably float to the top of the list when we track readership.  

Photo by Len Radin, Flickr

Last year we listed many of the articles and resources we had available at that time in a blog entitled Mastering Communication at Work . Since then, we’ve added a number of interesting posts that tackle the ever-present challenge of workplace communications.

Here is a list and a brief summary of each. We hope you find them useful.

  1. Healthy Workplace Communication: A discussion of communication styles from the perspective of healthy and unhealthy communication patterns (Passive, Assertive, Aggressive and Passive-Aggressive ways of interacting.)
  2. Create a Common Language to Connect: The key to communicating successfully with all types of people is to speak their language…this article discusses how to establish commonality for better communications.
  3. Communicating With Purpose: The essence of communication is intention. Communication always has a result and whether that result is intended or unintended has a lot to do with the communicator.
  4. Communicating Change: In an ideal world, significant organizational change is managed in a pro-active, organized way. More commonly, today’s companies are not systematically managing planned change as much as they’re rapidly responding and reacting to external pressures and emerging opportunities on an ad hoc basis. 
  5. Office Politics: Five tips for Playing in the Mud without Getting Dirty: Few people enjoy office politics but, being human, they get pulled into sticky situations in spite of best intentions. Conflict will happen. Bringing it out into the open and resolving it without slinging mud or leaving people bruised creates a win for everyone involved.
  6. Managing Rumors and Gossip in the Workplace: Much like office politics, rumors and excessive gossip in the workplace create a drain on morale that managers and HR professionals must get a handle on. Here are some practical tips for slowing down the rumor mill.
  7. Keep Calm and Carry on at Work: When it comes right down to it, we can’t control the behavior of others; we can only control our own actions in response to that behavior. These strategies can help us keep calm and carry on in the face of workplace drama, confrontation and crisis.
  8. Words Matter: The right words can make the difference between creating instant rapport and triggering the immediate rejection of your message. The right words open doors, build bridges and move mountains.
  9. Presentation Skills – Using the Tools of the Speakers Trade: This article offers practical tips for anyone who is called on to make public presentations and wants to take it up a notch and handle the task like a professional speaker.
  10. 10 Things You Should Never do in a Powerpoint Presentation: PowerPoint is still the most commonly used presentation software on the market. As an application, it allows you to do everything you need to do in creating an effective presentation. Unfortunately, it also comes with enough bells and whistles to lead you down the path to presentation hell.
  11. Mediating Workplace Conflict: This article offers a six-step process to help you mediate workplace conflict between employees.
  12. Why Don’t We Listen: Listening is one of the most under-developed communication skills. This article helps us understand why and what to do about it.
  13. Reframing-an Essential Tool for the Workplace: The words we choose determine how we are perceived and influence how we (and others) interpret day-to-day experiences. By using this technique you can set the tone for how workplace events are interpreted and how you are perceived as a leader.
  14. Informal Communication at Work: Informal communication is what keeps things moving, builds relationships and creates culture in the workplace. In an increasingly virtual world, employers need to understand the importance of preserving this part of the communications environment.
  15. The Bottom Line on Office Politics: Every environment that contains more than one person will have its share of politics. Find out what it means to be good at office politics in a healthy organization.
  16. The Importance of Clear Signals at Work: In the workplace, signals are often unclear. This article describes three ways that signals often get muddied at work and how to avoid them.
  17. How Do You Handle Conflict? Everyone responds to conflict differently. It helps to understand how you and others typically react to conflict so you can better manage your own reactions and learn to work with the many different responses of others.  

Of course, communication crosses may boundaries and you’ll also find related content in the employee development, employee engagement and leadership sections of our blog. If you don’t see what you’re looking for and you’d like us to write about a particular aspect of workplace communication, let us know. Effective communication makes the world (and the workplace!) go around.


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Negotiators: Do You Fit the Profile?

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"Along the grid of negotiating styles, some people take a compromising attitude - a firm but fair give-and-take. Others take the stance: Do it or you're fired. Then there are those who try to ignore problems altogether…Of course, the ideal is a win-win style." [1] In her book, Winning by Negotiation, therapist and business consultant Tessa Albert Warschaw outlines the following basic negotiating styles: U.S. Pacific Air Forces, Flickr Jungle Fighters (win-lose) These people enjoy the challenge of conflict; they are aggressive and apt to resort to cutthroat tactics when negotiations do not go their way. To …

How Do You Handle Conflict?

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K.W Thomas defines conflict as the “process which begins when one party perceives that the other has frustrated, or is about to frustrate, some concern of his”[1] Research demonstrates that people respond to interpersonal conflict with one of five basic reactions (described below). Each reaction can be placed within a range of assertive to non-assertive and cooperative to uncooperative behaviors. [2] Adapted from Conflict and Conflict Management by K. Thomas. Competing Conflict Mode: People with a competing response to conflict typically focus on satisfying their own concerns at the expense of others. Power struggles and win-lose negotiations are …

What HR Can Learn from Effective Sales Proposals

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A sales proposal has three basic objectives. Demonstrate to prospective clients that you fully understand the issues they’re facing and that you “get” what matters to them. Persuade the prospective client that you have the expertise, competence and support to deliver an optimal solution effectively and professionally. Provide supporting evidence and a clear rationale that can serve as justification for the prospect’s decision to commit. Photo by nlst6dh, Flickr Most importantly, an effective sales proposal reflects the challenges and needs of the prospective client and focuses on overcoming those challenges and satisfying those …

The Importance of Clear Signals at Work

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When Commissioner Gordon and Batman came to an understanding about the Dark Knight’s unofficial (but valued) services to the city of Gotham, they set up a simple, unambiguous bat-signal. When that beam of light and the hovering bat silhouette appeared in the sky, Batman knew he was needed immediately. In the workplace, unfortunately, signals are often much less clear. Here are three ways that signals often get muddied at work. The Indirect Ask Have you ever been guilty of an indirect ask? The indirect ask happens when someone makes a comment in hopes that it will generate a …

The Bottom Line on Office Politics

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Photo by Meme Binge, Flickr What exactly are “office politics?” For many, the idea has become synonymous with deception, end-runs, sabotage and “kissing up”. If this describes the politics where you work, you’re probably dealing with a toxic work environment where politics alone are not the problem.   Every environment that contains more than one person will have its share of politics. People who move ahead in their organizations are typically adept at office politics. But that doesn’t mean they’re using the damaging tactics described above. In healthy organizations, a …

Informal Communication at Work

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Watercooler Conference by Jean, Flickr The idea of an office “grapevine” and the notion of watercooler news exchange is not new or revolutionary. Many studies have been done about the existence of the workplace “bush telegraph” and its influence on the completion of daily tasks as well as the development of workplace culture.[1] You’ll also find reams of management advice on the topic. You can even take courses on accepting the existence of this type of communication and how to best use it to suit your needs as a manager or leader.[2] Impromptu, unmonitored …

Reframing: an Essential Tool for the Workplace

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The words we choose determine how we are perceived and influence how we (and others) interpret day to day experiences. We’ve previously written about the importance of the words we choose in the work place and provided some communication tools designed to help in using words effectively. Today let’s take a closer look at a skill that can be used to help cultivate a positive response to challenges in the workplace. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Reframing - Why You Need to Learn How Reframing is not as simple as choosing to always “look on the …

Why Don’t We Listen?

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In a text-message world where face-to-face is being replaced by tech-to-tech communication, we seldom have the chance to exercise our listening skills. Not that listening has ever been a strength for the majority. Most of us readily master the art of talking in our first 2-3 years on the planet. Listening, on the other hand—not so much. Listen by Marcus Quigmire, Wikimedia Commons According to the Writing Lab at Purdue University, there are a number of "types" who derail the listening process with a variety of counterproductive (if unintentional) habits. Maybe you’ve encountered these types or …

Mediating Workplace Conflict

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Managers, HR professionals, supervisors and team leaders have (at least) one thing in common: at some point in their careers, they’ll be asked to stand in the middle of a conflict and serve as de facto referee. When called upon to settle a conflict between two employees it’s important to have some tools at your disposal that can help you identify underlying issues, come to a workable solution and begin to restore co-worker trust. AHL Referee by Rick Dikeman, Wikimedia Commons Here is one such tool—a six-step process to help you mediate workplace conflict: …

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