18 Dec A Step in The Right Direction
Gracious communication comes naturally to some people. For these people, almost all the sentences they compose are accessorized with graceful, polite words, and even their most self-serving messages have a component that suggests consideration of the person with whom they’re speaking.
For others, grace notes are conscious add-ons that sometimes arrive quickly enough to be included in their messages, sometimes tossed in as an afterthought – “Oh yeah, so how are you doing?…” – and sometimes just overlooked. And of course there are those people for whom grace notes are a totally unfamiliar concept.
The second group of people – those who would be more focused on the other person if they thought about it- would probably be embarrassed if told that their communications were ungracious. Often they are hurried or anxious, or their thought is so pressing that they blurt their messages without taking time to consider the concerns of the other person.
Rita works in a small office building with old pipes. When the water in the office kitchen backed up, the plumber told Rita to ask the other office in the building to stop using the water in its kitchen until the blockage could be fixed. Rita sent an email to Hugo, the manager of the office above her. When water continued to back up in Rita’s office, she went to the office above and learned that the message hadn’t been sent because Hugo was busy. Rita explained the situation.
Rita: Could you tell them now to stop using the water, because we’re getting a small flood.
Hugo: Is it going to be fixed?!
Rita: Well, yes, as soon as the plumber and his machine get here.
Hugo: And how long are we going to be without water?
Rita: I think only a few hours, and you aren’t without water. Just in the kitchen.
Hugo: Yeah, alright…
This wasn’t an ugly exchange, but it was ungracious, and it left Rita feeling uncomfortable and unnecessarily irritated. Hugo could have added a few grace notes,
“I’m sorry you’re having a flood”
“Of course, let me know if I can help”
“No problem, thanks for letting us know”
No real harm was done by Hugo’s inattention to his messages, but the situation could have been more pleasant, the air a little lighter, and Rita a little calmer. Hugo was busy and probably distracted with his own issues, and thinking about Rita’s concerns required one more step.
But frequently, that one more step goes a long way.
Is someone in your office stepping on toes? Quick Tips for Collegial Communication helps everyone understand that even tiny mis-steps can lead to bruised feelings and minor grudges, all of which get in the way of teamwork and productivity. Check with us to schedule a class, a workshop, or a coaching session.