Monthly Archives: October 2014

The way in which we ask a question in the workplace has a big impact on the way we get the answer . . .

I received the email below from a valued colleague today and thought it well worth sharing. The writer, Catherine Gillespie is  very highly regarded workplace mediator and grievance investigator. Her contact details are below.

Dear Sharon,

The way in which we ask a question in the workplace can have a big impact on the outcome of a conversation.

Very often we question someone with the intent of finding evidence to blame or belittle the other party. This can put the other party on the defensive, or worse, on the attack.

By now you will have worked out that this isn’t the style of a constructive communicator. A constructive communicator asks questions with a true intention to understand the other person’s perspective.

In most situations, a person will have what they believe is a valid reason for behaving or acting or performing a task in the manner in which they did so. It’s human nature to take actions that we think will lead to personal benefit and sometimes are blind to ‘the cost’ of that action.

So asking questions to understand someone else’s approach will allow you to acknowledge what they were trying to achieve. This does not mean you have to agree with them or take on their point of view but it does build a bridge to understanding.

Now there should be less resistance from that party to move the focus of the discussion to exploring a more appropriate approach to achieving the same or a better outcome.

Our invitation to you over the next few days is, before you pose a question to a colleague or staff member that might be uncomfortable to receive, ask yourself “How can I put this so it leads to a constructive win/win outcome for all concerned?

At at the same time, keep an ear out for other conversations happening around you that include ‘challenging’ questions. If you think a question could be put more constructively, ask the person “Can I offer some feedback on how that conversation went?” (Did you see that ‘constructive’ opener right there?) Share your observations in a non-judmental manner and offer an alternative that could be seen as harmonious.

Now here’s a question from us – How are these communication tips working out for you? Are they useful for you and your team? If you have any questions or would like to share some examples of how you have applied them, we’d love to hear from you. Hit reply or phone us on 1300 227 901.

 Regards from Catherine Gillespie and the team at Workplace Conflict Resolution

Committed to Workplace Harmony

Ph: 1300 227 901

PS – If you have any questions or comments arising from this tip we’d love to hear from you, either by email (just hit reply to this email) or phone on 1300 227 901.

Workplace Conflict Resolution

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