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Help! I’m not getting through to him

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Even supervisors who normally communicate well with everyone sometimes meet the exception: an employee who seems to take everything the wrong way—when he’s listening at all.

If  you’re having trouble getting through to one of your people, try the following tips:

Monitor yourself. Are you communicating completely and explicitly? It’s often convenient to use verbal shorthand, but you run the risk that some people won’t know all your communication shortcuts. Take the time to make your messages as direct and as clear as possible.

Listen more closely. Don’t let frustration shut you off from the employee’s signals. Instead of thinking, “It’s hopeless. The guy’s off in a world of his own,” try harder than ever to understand the employee. Some workers expect to be perpetually misunderstood by their supervisors. Your effort to connect with them might be one of the most pleasant and productive surprises of their working lives.

Do something different. If you typically talk to the employee at a particular time of day or use the same kind of feedback each time, change your approach. It just might be what’s needed to shake loose whatever’s blocking communication. For example: an employee you normally talk to late in the afternoon might feel she’s low on your priority list.

Ask for the employee’s help. Don’t keep your intentions a secret. Let distant workers help you bridge the communication gap. Ask open-ended questions like, “What do you think we could do to communicate better with each other?” or “What’s worked in the way you’ve communicated with supervisors in the past?”

Bottom line: Employees may be amazed to realize that you’re open to their ideas about ways you talk together. Once you prove you genuinely value good communication, you may find yourself engaged in a dialogue far more lively than you’d have ever imagined.

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