In his new book about conversations at work, author Rob Kendall makes a very important observation. In school, we aren’t taught how to converse with people. We are taught to give speeches. We are supposed to listen, but there is little discussion or training on how to converse with people. As we move from the classroom into the workforce, we often take the negative patterns that come from our lack of training in basic conversation.
When we use those negative communication patterns (like blaming, name-calling, “the silent treatment”, etc.), chaos ensues.
What is Workstorming About?
Workstorming: Why Conversations at Work Go Wrong and How to Fix Them is about healthy communication in the workplace, the kind of communication that gets things done. The problem is that many businesses don’t actively foster environments where that can happen because they run on the assumption employees already know how to communicate. The book’s core message outlines three key essential elements to fixing that problem.
The first aspect of the book’s message is simply being aware of our communication at work. If we’re honest, most communication at work is mindless, routine or done while multi-tasking. This kind of communication stems from a negative coping strategy of dealing with workplace stress, according to Workstorming. We communicate, but we don’t take the time to really understand the situation until a misunderstanding happens. As a result, our negative communication patterns continue until a major problem happens.
The second aspect is implementing change. Once we become more aware of how mindless we are in work conversations, we need to do something about it! That’s easier said than done, however. When coworkers are in a meeting that breaks down into an argument, it’s the ideal time to bring awareness of this downward spiral to the group’s attention. Sadly, it’s also the very time when we are least receptive to the need for better attention in our work conversations..
The third aspect is establishing boundaries before you communicate. As the book suggests, be proactive and upfront with your communication. If you’re a business manager having a meeting, let the meeting participants know what decisions will be made and who will have the final say. Don’t have a meeting where the decision-making process is solely up to you, but employees are led to believe they are offering vital input.
Miscommunication hurts and it backfires, so it’s to our advantage to do what we can to fix it beforehand.
The author brings plenty of experience to the table from communicating successfully in a variety situations. Kendall is a communications coach whose professional career included working at the age 18 helping amputees in India, assisting with operations at the 2012 Olympics in London, and working in over 24 countries.
What Was Best About Workstorming?
The best part of Workstorming is the rather simple but intuitive message that the book focuses on. Kendall directs the reader’s attention to the tiny details that we all know in hindsight (like knowing when an argument escalates and how it feels after an argument), but we fail to acknowledge. If your workplace continues to have the same negative patterns in conversation (which the book identifies), this book provides examples of how to turn that conversation around and how to fix that conversation in the future.
What Could Have Been Done Differently
Workstorming has a lot of helpful (and again, intuitive) information that can help improve business communication. The one area where it could provide additional information is in the area of adapting the techniques to more difficult situations. The book provides some decent examples of the power of agendas (intentional or unintentional) to sabotage a conversation. What might be helpful is some additional information on what to do next. For example, how do you deal with a business leader who consistently engages in negative communication?
Why Read Workstorming?
Whether involving supervisors, employees or both, if you’ve noticed that workplace arguments have started to impact productivity and teamwork, Workstorming might be a book you want to add to your to-read list. The book breaks down the simple negative communication patterns behind many workplace communication failures and redirects readers to a simple method of awareness and proactive preparation. If you have ever wondered what simple steps you can do to help your business conversations move into a higher level of productivity, this book will start you in the right direction.