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How to Navigate Workplace Conversations

Every workplace conversation we have incorporates one or more of the following four conversational styles. They are used in many social situations, such as while talking about the weather, a huge sporting event, or a forthcoming party. They also come in handy while we are becoming acquainted with a new job role, receiving assignments from the boss, or demonstrating the operation of the travel policy to a new hire. The conversations below also show you how not to speak at a workplace!

Let us look at four examples of workplace conversations that occur most commonly in the workplace:

Example 1:

Worker A gets his performance review report in the office. However, he is not happy with the report, and chooses to address in the most expressive manner he can: he marches into the boss’ office, and begins fighting over the mildly poor review. On being told to exit the office, Worker A badmouths the boss to all the employees and leaves the office.

Example 2:

Worker B is in a team, which has to work alongside each other to come up with new ideas to improve efficiency in the workplace. Her teammate comes up with an original idea, and pitches it to Worker B, who in-turn pitches the idea to their boss as her own. In turn, none of the team members respond kindly to B, and further isolate her.

Example 3:

Worker A is a workplace acquaintance of Worker B. However, Worker A asks Worker B daily about her personal life. As in where she ate last night, if she went out with her friends in the evening, where she shops and more questions like these. Worker B, after a point, lodges a complaint against A to HR.

Example 4:

Worker A thinks of himself as a funny guy. He likes making jokes in the workplace, and people often respond kindly to his jokes. However, one day, he jokes about his boss being a single mother and hence how it negatively affects her work. This was frowned upon by the other workers who then complained against Worker A.

What do you think of these conversations? Do you think that this an appropriate conversation for the workplace? How do you navigate your personal life, as well as workplace conversations which are appropriate? Read on..

Each of the four dialogues has a distinct goal and affects the listener in a unique way. The examples given above are more or less negatively perceived in the workplace.

However, the ones mentioned below, and their examples are dialogues that may speed up the process, enhance responsibility, and lessen misconceptions if they are used at the appropriate moments and in the appropriate combinations or patterns.

Here are the 4 conventional patterns in which workplace conversations should happen:

Initiative conversations:

Connect fresh concepts with those who can help put them into practise and make them a reality.

Example: Worker A: Hello ma’am, can we talk about my performance review?

Boss: Definitely, please come sit.

Worker A: I noticed a few discrepancies in the review, and I feel like I have been marked rather poorly with regard to my work.

Boss: Alright, we can go over your review once again, and look for where there is space for improvement.

Navigating a conversation without overly expressing yourself is sometimes a task because we humans are such passion driven people. But workplace conventions ask for a controlled response to situations no matter how unfavourable.

Understanding Conversations:

Increase people’s understanding and awareness of a new or current topic in a way that makes it easier for them to see how to use or implement it.

Example: Worker B: I really like your idea! Maybe we can pitch it together to the boss?

Worker C: Definitely, thank you for being considerate!

Performance Conversations:

Are those that directly impact productivity at a workplace. When a conversation is overly intrusive/personal, it may affect the rapport and drift away attention from what’s required out of an employee. Imagine Worker A and Worker B are meeting for the first time, but are working together on a keystone project. Take a look at their conversation:

Example: Worker A: Hello, B. How was your weekend?

Worker B: Great! I went veal hunting with a group of friends, it was very adventurous!

Worker A: That sounds exciting! You should tell me where the prime hunting spots are, I can go with my friends too!

What do you think Worker A went wrong with? What was important here was for B to understand what not to speak at a workplace. Invading someone’s personal space is not a good workplace convention. You should delimit yourself when it comes to boundaries with other acquaintances. Sticking to what is required out of them at the workplace is the key.

Closure Conversations:

Improve responsibility, encourage feelings of achievement, pleasure, and worth, and provide an open discussion of the accomplishments and disappointments that were faced while pursuing a goal.

Example: Worker A: *makes an inappropriate joke*

Worker B: Hi, A. I would like you to know that the joke is not appreciated.

Worker C: Yes, she is our boss and it is entirely inappropriate to talk about your boss in the workplace.

Worker B: We do not want to embarrass you, but could you maybe keep such jokes to yourself? That would be much appreciated.

Closure provides the person with some responsibility, and effectively closes the topic, not to be talked about more than it should be.

Parting thoughts

Most of us aspire to be better at starting things, communicating clearly, encouraging action, and finishing things. You may now become an expert at leveraging the four dialogues to generate outcomes. Learn which conversations you are having, if they are the ideal ones for your goals, and how to include all the elements that will make other people respond to you in the manner you desire. If you wish to understand how to navigate tough conversations, you can read this. Also remember that improving confidence and persuasiveness in a speech is important.

Have you also made these mistakes? Can you also give examples that you faced? Did you also recognise the right and the wrong patterns of workplace conversations? Let us know in the comments!

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