Ineffective Communications: When Toxic Behavior Can Become Nuclear

PSOW Staff - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In his article “The Cost of Poor Communications,” David Grossman reported that in a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average annual loss (per company) of $62.4 million due to inadequate communication to and between employees. In looking at smaller companies of 100 employees or less, Debra Hamilton asserted in her article, “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that miscommunication results in an average loss of $420,000 per year.


With these startling statistics, it’s easy to see how ineffective communication not only harms the bottom line but it can also do much harm to employee morale. So what are the biggest mistakes business people make in interoffice communications? There are obvious ones like anger, bullying or disrespect, but there are also ways we make communication mistakes by simply not communicating. Here are some toxic behaviors to consider correcting in your own professional relationships:

Passive Aggressive: “You don’t like to voice your opinion about something and want to complain about it much later after the fact? Well, that’s OK. NO, it’s NOT!” Seriously, passive aggressive behavior causes ill will all around and makes small problems into large ones. By stating your opinion about something upfront with a coworker or boss, you show respect for yourself and you gain the respect of others by facing challenges head on. Of course, there are some bosses or colleagues that may have issue with that but, in general, being straightforward and forthright is usually the best approach to take.

Tone: In order to communicate effectively, it’s important to speak in a professional, courteous and respectful way. Work colleagues do not appreciate being patronized or having someone come across as borderline violent or simply mean. Some employees—and bosses— think that shouting and screaming is a way to get a message across. But all you really do is alienate your colleagues and it comes across as unacceptable bullying. If you are angry during a professional exchange, it’s better to simmer down and do some nice breathing before continuing the discussion.

Being Unresponsive: Nothing draws the ire of a colleague than the unreturned phone call, the unanswered email or the no-show in a team meeting. All of these examples show an utter lack of respect for your colleagues and can cause toxic workplaces that grow to a nuclear level. Remember, you may be on the receiving end of this sort of behavior. It’s best to remember the Golden Rule and be as responsive as possible to ensure good work flow and good cooperation.

Just say no to negativity: If you have a defeatist attitude, where you are always shooting down ideas and are overly critical of other people’s suggestions, you may not only be uninvited to the next company happy hour but you may find yourself being edged out of your job. Collaboration is key in a productive working environment and staying positive is critical to your success. That doesn’t mean you have to be Little Mary Sunshine, but you can temper criticism in a helpful manner without coming across as that “get off my lawn” lady.

Want more? Click HERE for Top Five Toxins in the Workplace Infographic 



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