Workplace Communication: How to Deal With Workplace “Snipers”

Effective communication skills in the workplace lower stress and improve productivity. However, some employees can sabotage a positive workplace atmosphere with their negative communication habits. For example:

A supervisor observes her employee looking around nervously and then ducking behind the copy machine.

“What are you doing?”, she asks.

A timid voice comes from behind the copy machine, “Avoiding snipers.”

Communication Snipers In the Workplace

First, let me be clear. I’m not talking about military sharpshooters, I’m talking about the every day communication snipers. The ones in the workplace.

Workplace snipers are highly trained marksmen (or women) who shoot verbal targets from concealed positions.

They have had specialized training in verbal communication attacks such as:

humorous put downs,
disapproving looks
and innuendos.
Ok. So, your employees may not have to play “Duck and Cover” at your workplace, but they may feel like it sometimes, and that’s the worst thing they can do.

Workplace Communication Snipers Thrive on Negativity

Avoiding confrontation allows the snipers to get away with their covert hostility. Some people are just plain negative. They may have learned to act that way while growing up, or may have been rewarded for it later in life. Either way, they now make it a way of life – going about their day making trouble for those around them.

Snipers may not actually want to be too hurtful. They just have a poor way of dealing with relationships because they have learned that negative communication gives them an “edge.” So they use their verbal communication weapons to protect their territory, and keep anyone else from messing with them.

Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on their workplace relationships, causing unnecessary conflict and tension. While snipers may feel they are gaining an “edge,” other employees wind up “feeling on edge” because of the problems they create.

People may find themselves tiptoeing around workplace snipers, keeping their distance, or avoiding them altogether. Their negativity has a destructive effect on the workplace atmosphere.

To Deal With Them, Learn this Communication Skill

Snipers usually refute their pot shots as either denial, “I’m only joking”, or volleying the responsibility back onto their victim, “Can’t you take a joke?”

Avoidance is not the answer. Here’s the secret to defusing them…

Train your employees to respond to these comments with a question.

“That sounds like you’re making fun of me. Are you?”
“What are you trying to tell me with that look?”
“Did you really mean what you said?”
Since verbal snipers rely on their camouflage, once their cover is blown, the chance for future attacks is lessened.

Dealing with negative communication is an essential leadership skill for supervisors and managers.

Being comfortable in the workplace is not only essential for employee job satisfaction, it’s also essential for quality productivity.

If you are a supervisor or manager, hold a communication skills training session with all your employees. This will alert any snipers that this type of negative communication won’t be tolerated. Your staff will appreciate your help and respect you for your leadership skill

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Creating Great Workplace Communication With Fire Pits

Did you know that the most successful businesses often have great workplace communication? This makes up the foundation of any business that runs efficiently and is profitable. With great communication, employees do not get sidetracked by drama or harmful gossip. Instead, with honest communication you will find that employees work together to solve problems and enjoy one another’s company.

Workplaces that have open communication between all people do not just randomly stumble upon this great attribute. It takes hard work to achieve a culture of communication and transparency in any business. If your workplace could use a boost in its workplace communication, then there are a few steps you can take to improve this important part of your business.

Sometimes businesses work best when a subtle approach is taken to things like communication. Instead of hosting an intense meeting about workplace communication, try hosting a laid back social event. It may seem counter-intuitive to approach workplace communication with a casual level of attention, but this can be one of the best ways to make your point to your employees. Employees do not usually benefit when a boss lectures them or yells at them, especially in areas like workplace communication.

Instead, try hosting a social hour at your own home for employees. This can be the only subtle cue you need to use to show employees that you care about creating a good social environment in the business place. A social hour only has to last for a couple of hours and it is a good time for employees to relax and be honest about how they feel about the business. Lighting a fire pit can add to the comfortable ambience of the social hour. A fire pit has an inviting warmth that will make every employee feel welcome to the event, regardless of any circulating gossip of rumors going around the office. Hosting a social hour can almost create the fresh start your business may need in its workplace communication department.

If you want your business to better serve customers, then having great workplace communication is a must. You simply must care about this part of your business, in order to have a professional environment that is honest and filled with people always willing to work their hardest. Hosting a social hour at your home is a great wa

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