Six Common Mistakes that
Reduce Engagement and Damage Relationships
in the Workplace
These mistakes apply to most internal staff relationships and customer relationships and many personal and social relationships. They are mistakes because they injure the integrity of the conversation by blocking its flow, creating frustration, and reducing understanding and satisfaction. The consequences can be catastrophic, as disharmony and disconnection can distract us from our focus on the health, wellbeing, care and safety of our customers and colleagues.
Here are six of the most common mistakes:
1. Talking too much
o Going on and on without giving the other(s) their turn. This happens in conversations, when the person goes into "tell" mode and the customer/staff member hardly gets a word in edgeways. Unfortunately, no matter how valuable the information we aim to impart, the one who hogs the talk soon frustrates others, and they quickly tune out.
2. The "Me-Centred" Monologue (v "We-Centred" Dialogue)
o A customer/staff member begins a topic and the listener grabs it away and opens a "me-centered" monologue. The customer/staff member says "I've been in bed for a week with the flu..." and the listener-soon-to-be talker says, "Oh? I had flu last week and it was .... " and begins to describe their experience. The initiator of the flu topic is unable to complete their thought because it's been hijacked.
3. Unsolicited Advice
o Many people, especially those of us who identify ourselves as excellent problem solvers are quick to give advice as soon as the other person even hints at a problem. Indeed, they may even offer advice when the customer/staff member hasn't even identified a problem they want help to solve. When offered, without invitation, the advice-giver assumes they have earned to the right to tell the customer/staff member what to do. This can trigger resistance, and instead of adding value and inspiring the person to take action, it can be instead cause the person to dig their heels in and feel disempowered.
o This means butting in before the other person has completed their sentence. Usually this is often done because the interrupting person is impatient and is afraid that they won't be heard or is distracted by competing priorities (e.g. other customers waiting, other tasks to be completed etc)
o This is the ultimate consultation/conversation blocker. Although great in structured debate, direct disagreement is not helpful in customer consultations, staff meetings or any engagement conversation. These offer the best outcomes when the consultation/meeting is mutual and collaborative.
6. Stingy Contributors
o This describes the people who listen, take and receive, but don't give - don't DEMONSTRATE empathy. They contribute little enthusiasm, information, self-disclosure, acknowledgement, compliments or other elements that lift a conversation, deepen engagement and build a relationship.
To learn more about Avoiding Communication Mistakes and Building Healthy Relationships in the Workplace,
to register for 4Front's free online 'STEP into Engagement' FREE training series available in the month of March.