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How To Reach Employees Who Aren’t Getting Your Message

Source | | Liz Kislik

All too often, leaders feel as if they’re sending smoke signals into a black hole while receiving little or no response from employees. Or they wonder why workplace disagreements persist and grow, even when they believe they’ve made their positions clear. Despite having impeccable logic and all the facts on their side, they still may not be able to accomplish what they want want.

During these times of frustration, says Lee Carter, President of Maslansky and Partners and author of Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Matter, it’s all too easy to decide that employees who disagree or won’t get on the same page with us “are bad people… [when] we’d be better in so many different ways… if instead of getting defensive and judgy, we start getting curious about where is that person coming from.”

It’s hard to get to a meeting of the minds or even begin an effective dialog if the parties are holding rigid positions. According to Carter, “Generally speaking, if you go in knowing that you’re right and they’re wrong, that’s a recipe for a disastrous conversation.” She described four different ways it’s possible to reduce the negative tension and start a productive conversation.

Understand yourself and where you are. Because we derive so much of our personal sense of significance from our work, no matter how logical we may think we are, our emotions are being constantly triggered by day-to-day events and people’s reactions to us. Carter explains the import of various emotional states at work: “If you feel anger, that indicates there’s a problem that needs to be solved.… [E]xcitement and joy …indicate you’re doing something good that you should keep doing…. And then there are inhibitory emotions, such as shame, anxiety and guilt” which can prevent you from taking action, interacting skillfully, or moving projects forward.

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