The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through. – Sydney J. Harris
“Sensitize & Strategize – Navigating your way through workplace conversation”
Have you ever had one of those moments at work when a colleague says something that is in poor taste? It’s easy to spot a moment like that. It’s usually followed by ingratiating laughter or in some cases, just awkward silence.
Surely most of us have been at one end of this conversation at some point or another.
Workplace conversation can be a tricky act to master. Let’s think about it – you spend an average of 8 hours (or more) in a closed space with the same people, day in and day out. It’s like having a family. You don’t get to choose your colleagues and you’re expected to get along with everyone. Some of these colleagues might even be your friends and they often are. But your workplace doesn’t afford you one luxury that your family does – the luxury of saying anything and everything.
Being friendly with colleagues often leads to friendly conversations. And sometimes people might say things that are disrespectful to another. There are several areas that are neither black nor white and these are the grey areas which are the knottiest. This is why we should steer clear of certain precarious topics
Here goes, workplace communication strategy:
An area where conflict might arise is religion and religious practices. The rule of thumb is to always be respectful. An important thing to remember is to never make unfounded statements about another religion. Religion is a highly sensitive topic and must be handled with extreme caution.
We sometimes get a bit antsy when people start to go beyond polite relationship talk. People often talk about who they’re going out with or getting engaged to or married to. There’s nothing wrong with that between friends. But when people cross the genial talk line and end up on the other side, it can be intrusive. It’s getting increasingly complicated to discuss relationships in workplaces because relationships are complicated. It’s easier to stay away from getting too personal with colleagues about their relationship status, their hook-ups and break-ups.
You must bear in mind that politics and political views are often the only ingredients you need to start a fight. Discussing politics is understandably a great conversation starter, but it needs dexterous handling.
There is such a thing as being too friendly- often, people use their friendly status with someone to say things that clearly don’t belong in the workplace. Commenting on someone’s looks, favorably or otherwise is a no-no. Sometimes we hear comments like ‘You look hot’ or “You should lose some weight’ casually flying about. If it’s the former, it can be tougher to respond to. No one dislikes a compliment. But compliments, in many instances can be a mask for inappropriate comments.
Workplace conversation is a ground that must be tread upon carefully. Be aware, note and report any red flags. A safe work environment is one where respect is the definitive sentiment.