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Monthly Archives

April 2017

Poor communication skills is costing your company more than you think

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

Poor communication can come at a hefty price if it is not addressed properly. Thankfully, I have teamed up Skip Weisman, a communication expert, who will give us some great information on how to improve our communication.

Our webinar will explore the seven most damaging communication mistakes you, your co-workers, your managers and supervisors, and even your company’s senior leaders are making every day.

You’ll learn some simple communication tips to apply immediately in order to improve your personal results at work. Claim your spot here!

The webinar with Skip is on Friday, April 28th at 10 am Pacific Time/1pm Eastern Time.

You don’t want to miss it.

Can’t wait,


My Company Isn’t as Stupid as United

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

United…. What’s up with dragging your customer off your airplane?

United says they overbooked the flight and needed four seats for employees, so they offered travel vouchers to encourage people to take the next flight. When no one took them up on the offer, they randomly chose four people to remove.

One of the four wouldn’t leave, and he was dragged off by law enforcement. He is now suffering from a concussion, broken nose, and two lost front teeth, according to this article in the Chicago Times.

You might be thinking, “no one in my company would ever do something like this,” or, “my company isn’t that stupid,” but I implore you to give it some more thought. As I wrote in a recent article about Uber, often people get caught up in things because of the situation outside of them, and they do things they wouldn’t normally do.

Even the law enforcement officers were caught up. They dragged the customer off the plane and I bet are regretting what they did. Interesting that none of them said to United, “No, I don’t think I want to participate in forcibly removing a paying customer who has done nothing wrong.” They were just doing what made sense inside the institution we call travel.

As for United, they set up their institution in such a way that abuse seems normal. About a year ago I witnessed some terrible abuse of United customers myself. The woman calling out the boarding groups on the loud speaker was extraordinarily rude – to everyone. So rude, in fact, that this recent dragging incident literally didn’t surprise me. It was almost like the next step from what I witnessed a year ago.

I considered filming her and, admittedly, thought about how it might go viral and then I would make an appearance on the Today Show to discuss this gross misconduct. But as I pulled out my phone I realized it wasn’t her fault she hated her job, it was United that was responsible for her behavior. I didn’t want to ruin her life, so I put my phone away. (Though I have refused to book United flights ever since.)

Researchers from workplace bullying also agree the institution plays a big role in bad behavior at work. Many research studies find that organizations with bureaucracy, hierarchy, high competition, many long-time employees, many smart employees, a machismo culture, or other such factors can cause bullying to happen.

I don’t know much about United’s culture per se, but I’d guess it’s fairly bureaucratic and focused on hierarchy – if people are unhappy, I assume reporting it is more complicated than simply telling their manager who could then address it.

If it was easy to solve problems at United, the employee I witnessed would have been stopped mid-yell. A manager or peer would have stepped in and taken over. And if employees were empowered to troubleshoot and problem solve, they would have offered more money to get volunteers instead of forcing people off. I don’t know, but I suspect $800 was the maximum they were allowed to offer, or offering more is highly discouraged.

While United has, of course, announced it will be reviewing its procedures for overbooking and removing people, and will no longer forcibly remove innocent people, it hasn’t made any mention of addressing the real problem: Culture.

It has a culture that appears to leave its employees unhappy, and willing to engage in abuse. United needs a cultural overhaul.

I’ve also been thinking about what might have happened if the person dragged was an employee rather than a customer. It most certainly would have been considered workplace violence and even assault.

Would it be considered workplace bullying? The answer is yes. Although we often say bullying is prolonged and repeated, severely egregious incidents “count.” The same goes for harassment. The EEOC uses words like pervasive and enduring, but if egregious enough a one-time incident “counts.”

Does your organizational culture foster abuse or respect? Here’s a short assessment to help you figure it out.

Seven Sins of Communication

By | Civil & Healthy Workplaces, Workplace bullying | No Comments

When I worked as the Director of HR for a nonprofit organization, I had an assistant by the name of Wendy.

Wendy worked hard, followed directions, asked the right questions, and we worked well together.

One day, I printed out a list of client names for Wendy. I needed her to line out certain names on the list who met certain criteria. I gave her these instructions and left her to it.

After awhile I happened to walk by her desk as I was heading out to lunch and thought I’d stop in and check on her. I distinctly remember looking down at the list on her desk and exclaiming (maybe even shrieking), “What are you doing??!! That’s not what I asked you to do!”

I was shocked that she had wasted all of that time doing this task so wrong. I’d given her such clear instructions after all.

Wendy responded by calmly saying, “Yes it is. You told me to…” and she repeated back to me, almost word for word, what I had said when I’d given her the instructions. It turned out that my instructions could be construed two ways – my way and her way – and both ways made perfect sense.

It wasn’t Wendy who was wrong, it was me. Perhaps I should have shown her one or two items so she could see what I meant. Or perhaps I should have asked her to show me one or two items so I could confirm we were on the same page.

Of course, I had to apologize for shrieking at her and for the time she’d wasted doing the project incorrectly. It was my fault she’d wasted that time, not hers.

My friend, Skip Weisman, calls this lack of specificity one of the deadly sins of workplace communication.

That’s right – I, the HR expert – committed a Deadly Sin.

It might sound dramatic, but think about it…

As a workplace communication expert for over 15 years, he hears complaints all the time from managers who say they have to ask direct reports time and again to follow through on assigned tasks, or to adjust something that was submitted because it wasn’t done properly.

That’s probably thousands, or perhaps millions, in post productivity and damaged morale.

When Skip tells these managers that it’s their own fault, sometimes they give him an angry look. Committing a deadly sin might not be easy to recognize or admit, but it’s true.

Skip actually has a total of 7 Deadly Sins… some of which are possible to commit without even realizing it.

Wonder what you or others in your organization are guilty of… and what to do about it?

Join Skip via webinar on Friday, April 28th at 10 am Pacific Time/1pm Eastern Time.

You’ll discover exactly where communication is negatively impacting your workplace most, and how to improve communication going forward.

Make sure you register for the webinar so you don’t miss your spot!


PS. You’ll also learn some simple communication tips to apply immediately in order to improve your results! Claim your spot.