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A Workplace Communication Blunder To Avoid

Beware Of Indelicacy On The Job

We usually think of our job as hard work, where mental and emotional toughness is demanded.

But we need to be careful to avoid overlooking the need for delicacy in handling workplace communication and interpersonal challenges on the job.

Often a patient, cautious course of action produces more positive results than a rash course of indelicate reaction.  

It's possible to be too bold in our attempts to improve things. 

Blasting off into a radical reaction that not only makes waves, but runs the risk of making tidal waves in the workplace, may set you on a course of conflict that really overlooks your own best interests.  

It's noble to attempt to make a significant, positive breakthrough and even honorable to make efforts to improve things at our own risk.  But when we push too hard, we end up increasing the push-back at our own expense and may achieve no real workplace improvement in the process.

One frustrated employee, for example, felt that his boss was placing too many restrictions on him, ultimately hindering his ability to produce and perform for his company to his full capacity.

This sort of situation typically incites frustration in a worker, because we are all “hard-wired” to give, to do and to express our very best.  When the urge to deliver and demonstrate our best workplace performance seems blocked, deep-rooted frustration is bound to ignite.

The frustrated employee's brash plan was to draw up a list of all of the leadership weaknesses he had observed his boss demonstrating, including the damaging consequences of lowered workforce performance resulting from those weak leader traits.

When he completed the list, he felt that it clearly outlined the leadership skills his boss needed to work on for the good of the company, for the employee's own good and even for the good of the boss.

He was so passionate about the list that he felt compelled to share it with a co-worker in a higher position than himself, whom he had come to trust, and whom he felt trusted him.  

Here is where his workplace communication blunder took place. His co-worker did not see the list of leadership mistakes as constructive.  He saw it as an act of unconscionable disloyalty toward their employer, and went to the employer to discuss it.

Predictably, the employer called the list-maker into his office and dismissed him on the spot.

Looking back at the situation, the frustrated employee realized that as accurate as the list was, and as noble as his intentions had been, he had carried out his intentions in an indelicate manner and committed a workplace communication blunder.

As much as he believed the co-worker with whom he shared that list trusted him, he also knew that this co-worker had consistently displayed a not entirely stable personality.  He was known to become extremely stressed out and even distraught on the job.  

Beyond this, upon looking back at his actions, the frustrated employee had to question if being so sharply critical of his employer to even the most balanced and stable coworker was appropriate workplace conduct.

Looking back at his actions with the clarity of hindsight, the employee had to face another unpleasant fact about himself. He had shared his list with his co-worker with the aim that the co-worker would help him get their boss to do some self-reflection for self-growth.  In other words, the frustrated employee was attempting to use or manipulate his co-worker to advance his own agenda.

So this workplace communication blunder can even be characterized as showing a lack of integrity.  

While his intention was to help and not to hurt anyone, he pursued his course of corrective action in a way that proved to be destructive.  He had to face the fact that his workplace communication blunder – not his intention – really made him deserving of dismissal, because it set an example of negative workplace griping that few if any bosses could, or maybe even should tolerate.  

Perhaps the coworker he shared his list with really was at fault for going to his boss with it, because the context of the sharing truly was well-intentioned, and the list really was quite accurate.  But either way, his strategy displayed costly indelicacy in the workplace.

Had this employee pursued a more patient, delicate course of action and shown more restraint in his communication, he might have found a way to contribute greatly through his work, even within the limits imposed upon him. 

Or, by giving his frustration a chance to pass and giving the matter deep thought, he may have decided to resign, based on his sense of integrity over not being able to contribute to his company in a meaningful way.  

As it turned out, though, he had to admit to himself that due to his lack of patience and delicacy in handling a challenging workplace situation, he was justifiably dismissed.

Let this be a workplace communication lesson to all of us.  The morale of this story is clear.  When faced with a workplace interpersonal challenge, don't rush in to fix or change things radically.  Don't engage in brash workplace communication.  Give yourself time to calm down and to come up with a creative solution that avoids unnecessary backlash and  that better serves your aims and interests.

Improve the workplace communication in your organization.  Instill more patience and awareness in your workforce.  

Call 404-297-4043 or email for more information or to schedule your motivating team building training or motivational speaking event.

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