Communication problems are one of the main issues that impede a work relationship and adversely affect business. When management and colleagues learn to manage these communication problems and find a way to really improve their communication style it can alleviate workplace problems, conflict and arguments.

Humanising the Workplace

It is the responsibility of management and leaders in business to ensure the work environment is comfortable, safe and productive for all those employed to work. With some simple strategies, workplaces can be conducive for all workers. It is when conflict erupts with either management or colleagues then problems escalate quickly.

We start a business or move into a new position of company and are expected to fit in and work alongside everyone, toe the line, get along and enjoy our time while working efficiently. We learn to speak and we can hear yet we never have actual lessons on how to communicate effectively.

In any work environment there is a hierarchy order. Even though this is true it also remains true that respect must be afforded to all people as everyone is equally a human with emotions, feelings and lives outside their workplace.

We have management we need to respond to as well as multiple work colleagues. Then we have the customers to deal with as well and they can add a considerable amount of pressure into our day. While many work colleagues work well together most of the time we are still human with emotions that accelerate and deteriorate throughout our day, week and month. Every work colleague and boss has a life and possibly a family, they may have kids that challenge them, elderly or frail parents or grandparents, financial issues and the list goes on. Any wonder at times workers arrive for their day ‘on-edge’ or stressed out while being emotionally delicate.

The old saying ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is completely untrue. Fact is words can cut very deeply. You cannot take back harsh words and these should never be used to the person you claim to love. By saying ‘sorry’ does not erase harsh or demeaning words.

What is an argument exactly? An argument is saying to the other person you must feel, do and believe what I think I think you should and if you disagree with my opinion, you are wrong and I will ensure you know how wrong you are by escalating my opinion so you will hear me.

Why do arguments happen so often in some workplaces? The issue is often the hierarchy. If people within the organisation feel more important, more needed or better than others, this often causes conflict and arguments. It is true of course that the boss’s position is important however I wonder how successful any business would be without the workers that make that business operate. In fact every person in every business holds an important role and position. It is when some colleagues believe they are more needed or important that issues can develop.

Everyone is important, everyone needs to feel important, to be heard, accepted and part of the mechanism that makes the organisation operate efficiently and productively.

The old saying ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is completely untrue. Fact is words can cut very deeply. We cannot take back harsh words and they should never be said to a person. Saying ‘sorry’ does not erase harsh or demeaning words. All workers must be accountable of how they conduct themselves in their workplace. It is more essential now with bullying laws applying, as workers may sometimes feel bullied when management are simply trying to get the worker to be more efficient or productive. We must learn how to succeed at this to avoid any future litigation.

To ensure a workplace is conducted in an environment of tolerance and acceptance a few rules should be followed

  1. Always ensure the workers know exactly what is expected of them, the rules, the boundaries and the expectations. It is only when things are completely clear do we have the right to challenge a worker for not fulfilling their expected role
  1. Understand every worker has a life outside their workplace. Their life may include times of trauma, distress, sadness or conflict. Often a worker will arrive at work with these issues very fresh and become quite fragile
  1. Accept that your opinion may not always be the only correct opinion to have. When we tell our colleagues what they ‘should’ feel or think, what they ‘must’ do, say or feel this can be confronting and conflictual and usually results in an disagreement or damage working relationship
  1. If needing to tackle situation with a colleague always do this privately. I suggest you use the sandwich technique where you begin with a positive comment about them or their work, address the issue and finish a positive and solution about how the situation can be rectified.
  1. Notice your workers and colleagues often. Many people go through their day feeling un-noticed and under appreciated. When we are noticed we have an endorphin release making us feel good

Training is a major part of any successful workplace environment. So often we have fabulous training for safety and productivity yet we regularly miss the major part of enabling an organisation or company to work efficiently and industriously with happy productive workers. Ensuring workers understand the basic communication rules. We must educate workers and colleagues to understand and accept everyone has ups and downs within their personal life that may infringe into the workplace at times. When we recognise the difference in people and acknowledge the importance of respectful communication skills, much conflict can dissolve quickly.

To avoid arguments at work with colleagues we:

  • respect the positions they hold and job they all do
  • use words such as ‘perhaps you could’ or ‘maybe you could try this’ which is far kinder and
  • listen to your colleagues and workers so they feel heard
  • ask questions so you can ensure you understand what they are saying or wanting
  • never yell or raise your voice, instead, if angry take some time out to recompose your emotions
  • never use demeaning words, they remain in the brain; words can cut deeply
  • always notice the positive areas of their work
  • speak privately if a discussion must be conducted

These steps enable us to develop a connection with our colleagues and ensure our workplace environment is happy, safe and productive. It is amazing how powerful words can be, choose wisely.