How to Respond to Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss

How to Respond to Communication Blocks When Initiated by the Boss (part 3)

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 this third article, we will look at a boss who seeks information from others as well as many other counterproductive behaviours so you can raise your own awareness or address them if they affect you.

Seeking information from others

This behaviour can not only make the person uncomfortable but, more important, be an indicator that you do not believe or trust them.

Examples of situations observed

A CEO tells one of his VP’s that he will verify with head office if his decision is appropriate.

A spouse tells his partner that he will verify if he can get a better price for the new Home PC

The teenager who seeks supporting information from the parents of his friends after being denied permission.

How we feel

Distrust comes to mind first and foremost. Why is this person acting that way?

We may not feel important and tend to withdraw. This may also erode self-esteem. We may become confused, suspicious of the other person’s motives and be resentful.

What to Do About It

Reflect first to see if there are previous incidents that may have triggered distrust from the other person. Observe other interactions to see if it is a common behaviour.

Address the bad habit directly

Describe the behaviour in neutral fashion

Give specific examples

Describe the pattern and the impact on you

Don’t hesitate to share your feelings

Ask what the real issue is

Describe what you want for the relationship


Other behaviours that hinder communication

Insults get you nowhere in a dialogue. How would you want to be insulted by someone else? As a result, you shouldn’t insult anyone regardless of how you communicate normally or if you believe someone has wronged you. There are many ways to control your demeanour. Insulting someone blocks in the information which could prove useful to you since the other party may not only reciprocate but never share his/her needs or interests.

Looking at one’s watch frequently: The image we get is that the person is losing his/her time. This gives the impression that the other person is not important in our eyes.

Continuing one’s tasks while another person is talking: This is another demonstration of complete lack of interest and unwillingness to listen. We feel we are not important or not valued.

Not looking at the other person: Demonstration of disagreement. Subtle vengeance. You are not important to me.

Stereotyping: This shows lack of respect for the other person. We may be tempted to think we are judged as well.

Scream or talk very loud: There may be a tendency for the confrontation. The person tries to dominate and/or win the argument without regards to others. Are they trying to attract attention?

Pointing fingers: An accusation. I am right, you are wrong. Trying to belittle the other party. It can be a demonstration of power. We may assume the person tries to hide something.


Questions for reflection (look at yourself first)

What are your usual behaviours in conversations or dialogue?

What impact does your behaviour have on others when you have conversations? Have they clammed up? Do they react strongly or openly?

When have you taken the time to self-observe and reflect on your actions?

What will you do to improve your communication style?

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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