Communicating clearly at work

The post I wrote yesterday about emotional proofreading is so much about the ability to communicate not just clearly, but to provide more certainty. If the plan for a face-to-face chat is for someone to take you through some materials, then say so. The use of power and authority in the workplace can be intimidating particularly when we bring to our workplaces echoes of our experiences in school when we receive a marked assignment with a poor grade and the words in red ink ‘See me’.

This psychological safety at work is completely underrated especially in Asian working cultures as something that helps us all thrive. There’s this sense that work is about being serious, about casting aside one’s emotions like a stoic, and that displaying emotions, especially panic is bad. The thing is that feeling the emotion and being able to flag it out isn’t the same as expressing it and going hysterical. Yet people are unwilling to even name or admit to feeling what they exactly feel.

Then something is wrong here. Being able to communicate emotions, clear the air properly and eliminate tensions are important. I’ve been in workplaces where the boss actually thinks some kind of tension in the air is good and keeps everyone on their toes. Eventually, we had meetings that were just pre-rehearsed and almost staged because the tension was so much no one could really be creative and think on their feet. Genuine brainstorming was replaced by people just rattling off points that were prepared before hand.

Without clear communication and ability to project certainty for the people, the office descended into lots of mind-reading, guessing what the boss wants or how a presentation ‘actually’ went. There were multiple versions of the same event as experienced intellectually, emotionally, as witnessed physically and so on. People just weren’t the best versions of themselves anymore. It was sad that several different people were actually seen as incompetent rather than being unable to function in such a dysfunctional environment.