Tips and Tricks

June 1, 2017 By Colleen Regan

How Communication is Key When The Office Is Imploding Around You

June 1, 2017

By Colleen Regan

Read More from Colleen Regan

June 1, 2017

How Communication is Key When The Office Is Imploding Around You

By Colleen Regan
Product Marketing Manager

Do you know the warning signs of an imploding office? Maybe it’s unspoken tension, mysterious absences, or rumors leading to a buzz in the office hallways (or via remote meetings, if your company has no hallways). If your current office situation is in this state of disarray, it’s hard for anyone to stay focused. To survive a less than ideal office environment, communication must become your priority. Here are some tips to help you!

Stay aligned with the right people.

Sometimes, office implosions are the result of internal politics gone wrong. In a dramatic time, take a moment to think about the bigger picture of your career thus far and who has influenced or motivated you along the way. During times of turmoil, continue to foster these positive professional relationships, and veer away from the negative ones.

Your efforts to communicate with these people don’t have to be in-depth. Send them a quick “hello” in Slack or HipChat. Share results of a project you worked on with them, or ask for their opinion or advice. Stay close with people who have proven to be reliable, trustworthy, and inspiring to you. Steer clear of those who seem to fan the political flames or get overly competitive. This will help you – and others – continue to work the way you’ve been most successful, rather than get caught up in the drama.

Rather than add to the noise, take the time to listen.

Talking and communicating are not true synonyms. In stressful times, people often forget about the other half of the equation – listening! Tense office environments make it difficult for people to hear each other. People might be fearful and trying to protect themselves, advocating for a “side,” or trying to over-control a stressful scenario. What can set you apart? Being the person who hears them.

As a listener, it’s important not to remain silent. Make clarifying statements to truly understand what’s being said. “What I hear you saying is…” or “do I understand you correctly?” can go a long way in easing the tension felt by someone who doesn’t truly feel heard. This will also give you better perspective on the root of the issue at hand.

Don’t rely on email and chat. Visual communication is key.

When tense situations arise, it’s much easier to ‘face someone’ without actually facing them. Bad news or difficult conversations should not be handled in a chat box or an email chain. Eye contact, body language, facial expressions–these cues add so much to a conversation that words and tone of voice alone don’t convey. So if your team or office is stuck in a bad habit of handling deep issues through their keyboards, suggest to the team to rise above it. Be the person who sets a meeting to tackle the conversation head on. If you can’t be in the same room as everyone, using a video conference can foster that same personal connection and face-time needed to start solving the problems at hand.

Communicate what’s important — the fact that you are doing your job.

Regardless of how the dust settles after the office drama, your performance matters. During tense times, tune out the noise and get back to the basics of your mission – getting your job done. Take a look over your job description or your goals for the year to inspire you. If you’re having trouble focusing (and who wouldn’t!), tools like Trello or IFTTT can help keep you on target or even automate parts of your tasks. Set smaller, shorter-term goals to keep yourself motivated and moving. And clearly communicate with your manager that you’re getting all this work done amid the craziness. Getting involved in water-cooler office gossip is tempting but a waste of your time. Focus on discussions that move you forward professionally.