How to Respond to Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss (part 1)

How to Respond to Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss (part 1)

Everyone has different communication habits and behaviours. These can be interpreted in many ways due to our nature. The messages can be perceived as negative by the receiver.

In the following articles, I will describe Communication Blocks of situations I have observed or lived and offer ways you can help your boss improve and facilitate your relations. We all had to live with and experience the negative impact of inadequate communications.

 Accusations and blame are the most destructive types of communication. When one blames the other, the receiver believes he/she is assuming you are guilty, even if they have not heard the other side of the story.

I have witnessed a senior executive who literally attacked his staff, in turn, during staff meetings. It came to be a standard of operating and an expectation that one of them would be humiliated in front of the others.

How do people feel when this happens?

How to react and respond to blame

We may be tempted to respond harshly and counter-attack. Take deep breaths and try to understand why the boss is acting this way.

‘’ What could I have done that leads you to this conclusion?“

‘’ I did not intend to upset you, I am trying to do the best job possible.“

‘’ Can you tell me where I went wrong so I can learn from this?“

Share the elements you agree on and your own perspective of the situation

“’ I have a different opinion/perspective on this matter. Can I share?“

If the Boss insists, ask for a follow-up meeting when the two of you can discuss the issue, one-on-one. During the meeting, you can remind him/her that you don’t appreciate losing face in front of your colleagues and you are always available to look at issues.

Judging others may hinder the smooth flow of information. Making assumptions about the character of another person may also influence how we react. If the other person suspects that you are judging him/her, it is likely that they will be defensive, clam up and not open. Many tend to tell you that what you want to hear to put an end to this conversation. The more the parties close themselves, the less the opportunity for authentic dialogue emerges.

 How We Feel Then

When we sense we are being judged, we feel attacked in our dignity, we do not feel recognized as an individual. We often respond by resisting future feedback that can be useful to us. We may also be tempted to save face and counter-attacks, which adds to the tension.

How to react and respond to judgments

“’ When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.“ (Unknown)

Acknowledge Your Emotions

Name the emotion and notice how it impacts you. Build your awareness. Recognize that emotions are a part of your being.

Try to Understand

Ask yourself, why are people behaving that way? What is important to them? What are their deeper needs?

Look at Your Own Mindset

What is your attitude towards the other person? How does that affect your own reactions and behaviours?

Look for the Lesson in the Interaction

What can you learn from this? What is the meaning behind this interaction?

Redefine the relationship

If the relationship brings all kinds of negative emotions in you, how can you establish boundaries that will minimize the impact?

This is something very few people do. We think that the relationship will remain as is. Is that true?

What can you do to make the relationship better?

If need be, create some space and reconstruct the relationship a bit at a time.

Focus on positive relationships

“’ When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for him you will find yourself or lose yourself.“ (A Course in Miracles)

Jean-Paul Gagnon, ACC, CHRP is a professional coach, certified as CINERGY Conflict Management Coach. He is also a trained practitioner in conflict resolution. He is a mediator in the workplace and a volunteer community mediator. He has over 35 years of experience in Human Resource Management.                    

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