Thursday, January 25, 2007

Do you work in a negative workplace?

We all have our New Years resolutions. Mine is to keep learning, keep growing, and share new ways to help us all communicate better in the workplace - and that's where you folks come in. I'd like your opinions on one of the next major areas I'd like to address, beyond my firm's flagship customer skills and coaching programs.

As I travel around delivering organizational training, the single biggest complaint I hear from people - often whispered in private - is how much negativity and conflict there is in their workplaces. Whether it is between managers and staff, between different departments, or between individual co-workers, there is a great deal of stress and pain in the workplace.

What I also hear is that most traditional "Dealing with Negativity" training programs simply don't work. A staple of motivational speakers and local trainers, these programs generally exhort everyone to be nicer - and the people who need it the most generally roll their eyes and don't change anything.

I know there is a better way. We fundamentally get into conflicts because (a) we have different personalities with different expectations, and (b) we don't know how to communicate in ways that help us get more of what we want - and these are skills that everyone can learn. When I have personally helped "turn around" negative workplaces before, it has been less a matter of telling people to be less negative, and more one of teaching everyone how to communicate better.

I'm also torn about how to title such a program. No one wants to proudly hang a graduation certificate on their wall from a "Workplace Negativity" program - especially when what they have really learned are a new set of interpersonal and leadership skills. But using it in the program title certainly grabs people's attention and gets them saying "wow, we need that here".

So what kinds of negativity issues do you have at your workplace? If you were bringing me in to do a workshop with your team, what areas would you like to see people learn to change? And how would you title such a program? Let me know at rich at Thanks!

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