Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Communication Killers

MBA.501 - Communication Killers: How to 
screw up  progress in the workplace.

1.  Listen just long enough to form a counter-strategy; then:      
2.  Invalidate! 
2.1. Challenge each premise as it emerges. 
2.2. Don’t wait to hear it all.  “Now, be reasonable …”
3.  Attack! 
3.1. Criticize!  “You always…,” is a good approach.
3.2. Attack their motives and accuracy.
4.  Defend! 
4.1. Adjust what you hear to fit your position. 
4.2. Deny their perspective. “No, you don't understand...”
5.  Escalate! 
5.1. Restate the offeror’s content in exaggerated and extreme form.
5.2. Then insert reasons why ‘it’ is impossible.  “The contract doesn't allow…”
6.  Withdraw! 
6.1. They're the problem, not you; make a strategic exit.
6.2. I'll get somebody else to handle it,” is a great play.
7.  Play the ‘!#@*% you’ card!   Always a good cut-off. 

Easy Alternative:

1.  Give ‘understanding’ a try.
1.1. Listen to the subject matter and offered rationale.
1.2. Evaluate the non-verbal (the other 85%) content.
2.  Make sure you get it. 
2.1. Ask for insight. Why? What? How?
2.2. Feed it back for clarity. "If I understand, then ...."
3.  Keep it easy. 
3.1. Dial down each escalation.
3.2. Acknowledge each criticism according to its relevance and accuracy. 
4.  Brainstorm together.  Not why we can’t but how we can succeed.
5.  Affirm and Commit. 
5.1. Affirm the validity.  “Yes, you're right on that point.”
5.2. Affirm the value.  “Thanks.  I needed to know that.”
5.3. Affirm the individual.  “Keep it up.  I need your perspective.”
5.4. Commit.  “I understand and I’ll back you up on that.”
6.  Rinse; repeat. 

The principles illustrated here are applicable to pretty much any relationship whether it's between coworkers, friends, or marriage partners.  Or between parents and children, for that matter; especially teens.  :)  

The two authors of this particular short list spent 35 years in research, development, and screwing up.  Thanks and a hat tip to Russ whom I've known since the 70's and for whom I've worked since the early 90's.  Hard to believe he didn't fire me when I told him to.