Communication Skills Learned from an Etch-A-Sketch

Q. How do I create a New Document window on my Etch-a-Sketch?
A. Pick it up and shake it.

Q. What is the proper procedure for rebooting my Etch-a-Sketch?
A. Pick it up and shake it.

Q. How do I delete a document on my Etch-a-Sketch?
A. Pick it up and shake it.

And my point is….?

Sometimes the answers you seek are simple.

You’ll agree that when communication skills are poor, morale and ultimately productivity, take a hit. Consequently, when you’re faced with a challenging situation (Read: You believe someone you work with is – or is behaving like – an idiot.)  talking with the involved party should be your first option. But it’s interesting how often the obvious answer isn’t the one you want to hear, much less implement.

Q. My boss just keeps piling the work on and I can’t keep up. What can I do?
A. Have you talked with your boss about it?

Q. We have a team member who is really negative. He says inappropriate things to clients and internal people alike. We’ve just about had it.
A. Have you talked with him about it?

Q. Our client wants us to execute their project a certain way, but we know from experience it’s a recipe for disaster.
A. Have you talked with your client about it?

Q. My co-worker stops in my office many times a day just to chat. I don’t have the time to talk with her. How can I get her to knock it off?
A. Have you talked with her about it?

To paraphrase Edward Hallowell from his book CrazyBusy, we are now electronically connected but interpersonally disconnected. It’s getting harder and harder to have meaningful, sometimes difficult conversations because we’ve gotten used to e-mailing, texting, and instant messaging — and perhaps unwittingly begun to hide behind those options. Communication skills are deteriorating.

It’s as though what’s going through your head is, “A phone call or a face-to-face conversation could be uncomfortable, so I’m going to a) suffer in silence until I explode b) complain to other people about how awful the situation is c) find any other option to fix this because talking to the person about it is out of the question.”

All options that stink.

Speak up and see what happens. You don’t have to be an aggressive jerk about it. Talk nice just like how you learned in grade school. You’ll do fine. Focus on improving your face-to-face communication skills and your issue just might become a non-issue.

Useful? There's more where that came from.

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