Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes

ACHIEVE YOUR VISION . . . ONE STEP AT A TIME.


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Respectful Communication at Work: Beware of Rude Bosses!

Good bosses care!

Do you have good thoughts about your boss?

This week I’ve heard sad tales of mean, nasty leaders at work. Disrespectful managers tend to be clueless and/or uncaring about the consequences of their bad behavior.

For instance, a group of savvy investors in my community chose not to buy stock in a growing company because of widespread stories about bullying bosses who shame and blame hard-working employees. A friend advised her sought-after son not to apply at this organization.

While they are “desperate” to hire new workers — in part to replace those who quit after being treated poorly — people in the know are staying away, opting to work for a competitor instead.

Too often, I’ve observed CEOs and other leaders who seem to advocate (or willfully ignore) low morale, high turnover, and other signs that might cause alarm among more enlightened bosses.

Here’s a good article about bad bosses and rude role models, courtesy of Harvard Business Review. It’s challenging to be respectful and caring in toxic organizational cultures filled with rudeness and overwhelming demands. Respectful communication matters, and it starts at the top.


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How HR professionals can survive in a changing workplace

This post by Theresa M. Welbourne, Ph.D highlights what HR professionals should do to survive and thrive. I’ve observed how rarely HR people are viewed as respected leaders at work, despite good credentials, intentions and ideas. Welbourne advocates being a flexible, prepared problem-solver. I particularly like her suggestion that HR people find mentors outside of HR to help them navigate the workplace jungle.

Seat at the Table? Now it’s “Laws of the Jungle,” and 7 Tips for HR to Survive.


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Listening, leadership and respect

When I teach listening skills in college classrooms or corporate boardrooms, I begin with doing something old-fashioned. I use chalk or a marker to write this equation in bold letters:

LISTENING = RESPECT. (Because I want to encourage listening, I write these words instead of using PowerPoint slides. More on this in another post.) Often I’m allotted only 15 minutes to speak on listening, a topic that requires a lifetime of patience and practice. Unfortunately too little time is spent on this critical interpersonal skill. Continue reading


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Is respectful communication at work an oxymoron?

I just received an invitation to a “respectful engagement at work” seminar. It sounds good and I admire the facilitator but I wonder whether it can make a difference. This is a disheartening thought because I lead workshops on respectful communication. What if my efforts result in nothing?

I suspect many who attend these seminars are: a) already converted (i.e., choir members seeking others with whom they may sing in tune, if only during a half-day workshop); or b) already disgruntled (i.e., people sent by well-meaning or clueless supervisors who believe respect may be taught in a workshop and/or who don’t create a climate for respect).

After studying and teaching interpersonal communication for decades, I’m familiar with specific speaking and listening skills that may contribute to more respectful collaboration. It’s difficult to put them into practice, and respectful engagement goes beyond using effective communication tips. In some situations, it probably seems not worth the effort.

So what’s behind my dampened enthusiasm? Have I lost respect for respect? I’ve built a career advocating positive personal and organizational change. I always believe things can be better and improvement happens one person at a time. But lately I’m experiencing a cynical — or perhaps more realistic — phase of doubting my ability to coach or teach about respect. We live in a cultural climate in which so many folks are stubbornly focused upon wanting others’ respect FIRST. Fewer people seem willing to take the first step by looking within or letting go of something to earn respect. Continue reading