According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of communicate is:
• to get someone to understand your thoughts or feelings
• to give information about (something) to someone by speaking, writing, moving your hands
Blah..blah. Yes, we have all heard that communication is essential for an organization to function. However, the questions are how, when and what to communicate. Just moving your mouth is not enough. Nope!
How you communicate is your tone of voice, body language (including facial expressions), or sounds that come from your mouth, such as a “hum”, grudge-type sound, growl, grunt, unidentified sounds, or “ah-ha”! This also includes your chosen method to communicate, such as: an email, face to face, presentations, word of mouth or no communication (is communicating), etc.
When you communicate in the workplace, is about timing. This is usually (not always) motivated by an unexpected event, such as: when you manager asks you to stay late, when a coworker is playing music too loud (Try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial), when it’s time for a raise (money is a motivator) or asked to take on extra work when you are already overworked, and about to spike your morning coffee with tequila-just to name a few situations.
What you communicate is what you say and/or do to communicate your message, such as words and phrases.
An example of: how, when and what of communication, your script should look like Susie’s story (very common scenario): True story: Names have been changed to protect participants.
Situation - Your manager unexpectedly asked you to stay late and you cannot.
Manager (Tom): “Susie, I need you to stay late tonight to ______ (stock shelves, do a report, etc., fill in blank)”
Employee (Susie): “Tom, may I speak to you for a moment”
She immediately walked her manager to the side, for privacy. As you are doing this, take a non-noticeable deep breath.
Susie: (politely) “Tom, I am not available to stay. I see how important this is to you (or company or fill in blank). I can work on this first thing, when I come in tomorrow”
Susie: “How to do you feel about that?”
At this point one of two things or combination will happen:
1. Your manager will ask you: “Why can’t you stay?” (Or give you that “why” look and want to know). This is common.
Keep in mind: It is none of your manager’s business “why”. You don’t “owe” your manager an explanation. You know this, your nosey manager knows this, but they don’t care. Just stay calm and politely say: “I have something personal to take care of after 5:00 (or state time you are “legally” off work). Then give them a serious, “poker face” and maintain a serious eye contact.
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What you are doing is educating your manager that:
1. you have a life outside of work and it is none of their business and, you are not to be taken advantage of/ take for granted (if this is the case, but not 100% of time).
2. Your manager will say “ok” and leave it alone. If your manager continues to ask, simply state: “Please understand, it is very personal and cannot talk about it”. If your clueless manager continues to ask, say “I have to use the restroom and walk away, saying “thanks for understanding”. You can follow in Susie's footsteps when her manager continued to ask her why.
She told him: “I have some personal female things I need to take care of”; Those were her exact words (you can use the "male" if applies"). After that, her manager never asked her "why" when she could not stay late, nor did he ask her to stay late often. Hooray for Susie! (True story)
Your manager could have been testing you or they genuinely needed you to stay late (it doesn’t hurt to test them to). Sometimes it is a combination. Some managers are lazy. They don’t want to do their job, and want YOU to do their job for them. Can I get an AMEN!
To break down the above communication scenario:
How: Susie immediately walked Tom over to the side, to communicate her response face-to face.
By doing this, Susie prepped her manager for a serious and private conversation. Susie was professional, polite, kept a low monotone voice and maintained a serious eye contact, “poker face”. This is how you say no, without saying the word “no”.
If your manager’s request comes via email, if possible walk to their office or cubicle so they can see your facial expression, just be strong and talk. However, if you have a seriously difficult, abrasive, and idiot, type manager, and prefer not to be in the same room, response to the email with the above conversation: “I am not available…” Keep your statement short and concise.
When: Susie, is serious. She asked Tom to speak with her immediately after he made his request. She did not wait or contemplate. Don’t let time pass in communicating what you want or don’t want. You must show urgency to your manager/coworker, yet be professional at the same time. Even, if it taking out the trash, just maintain constant composure.
What: Susie’s keyword was “available”. Yes, people, you agreed to be available to work during certain times. Any time outside of the agreed upon working hours is YOUR time, including lunches (legally – detailed information is available via state/federal labor law websites). Susie simply said she was not available (short and concise) and offered an alternative situation.
Susie offered to make what her manager wanted her to do as a priority when she came in the next day. Offering an alternative solution shows you are able to still work on the task. However, if you can stay, then stay.
Another key word is “personal”. It is the workplace. When using the words “personal and after work” in a sentence, it would be best for a manager to stop asking questions. Asking “personal” questions can get your manager and the company in legal hot waters. Stating personal information at work is voluntary. BINGO, my friend! Yes, we know work people are nosey, busy-bodies.
You are not likely to lose your job, for not being available to perform work during your personal time. If you do, look for another one. Yes, that is easier said than done. After work and personal time is what it is. You have to ask yourself, Do you really want to work for a place that doesn’t understand what personal means? Click over to Get Hired for help in your job search.
What communication issues have you have in the workplace? and How did you address the issue? Please leave your comments below