For the sake of this exercise, envision yourself as the thinker in these office scenarios:

1.) Walking down the office hall: 

“There’s Sam from accounting, I should say hi, but I’m going to pretend I didn’t see him. I’ve got too much to do; I don’t have time for a conversation.” 

(Sam knows you saw him, he plays along because he doesn’t want to make it awkward but wishes you’d taken two seconds to say hi)

2.) Entering the breakroom and encountering a co-worker you haven’t seen for a while: 

“Things got weird during the last meeting with Ryan. I haven’t talked to him since then.  It’s going to be weird, so I think I’ll just avoid the conversation instead.” 

(Ryan wonders why you’re not talking to him anymore, you used to work so well together. He wonders what he did wrong?)

3.) Jill made an error on a form needed for a client. Jill’s desk is two doors down from yours. 

Ugh. She made an error like this last week. Doesn’t she get it? I sent her an email telling her what to do.

You copy and paste last week’s email to her, write PLEASE READ, in the subject line, point out her error on this week’s form by saying, “you missed this last week so I’m sending again for reference.

(Jill reads the email, she’s already had a terrible day, now she wonders if she should just quit)

4.) Group lunch and learn on leadership. 

The facilitator says, “Tell me your core values.”

You say, “Trust, honesty, and integrity.” 

You smile, feeling very leaderly and smart.


The thing is if you were leaderly and smart;

Sam wouldn’t have felt like crap because you didn’t acknowledge him.  Ryan wouldn’t wonder whether or not you’re still on good terms, and  Jill wouldn’t be contemplating quitting.

My friend, you can’t have trust, honesty, and integrity without communication.

That’s the core value you missed.

I can hear you now… “But Alex,  communication is so basic.  It’s a given, right? I mean, we’re all professionals here.” 

If you saw yourself in any of the scenarios above, you are a professional who struggles with communication.

And you aren’t alone.

I see it every day.

Professionals who say they want radical candor but can’t look up from their phone long enough to make eye contact with the people around the table.

Teams who don’t have boundaries, who gossip, and sabotage.

Companies who want to talk about civil discourse before they’ve given their teams the tools to start a simple conversation with someone who doesn’t look or think as they do.

What’s lacking in leadership training is an emphasis on basic communication skills.  

Before you invest in yet another book, course or consultant offering solutions for conflict resolution, candor training, or employee engagement, ask yourself this;

Does my team demonstrate the basic communication skills needed to make that kind of training effective long term?   

Do I? 

If the answer is no, make a better investment.

Invest in basic communication skills.

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