Karen Gathercole is Associate Vice-President of Human Resources at Florida Institute of Technology. In a recent column she discussed the human side of good HR principles. Her examples are all in a business-world context, but I think her comments reflect principles of effective coping that we regularly present in this blog.
Gathercole noted how any successful business boils down to its people, the human capital of the business. Employers should always make a concerted effort to understand the personality dynamics of their workers and how that personality is expressed in preferences for work conditions. An effective employer will investigate under what conditions individual employees are most efficient, and, within reason, will strive to match those conditions to individual workers. When conducted at an individual level, this analysis looks at policies like work schedules, variations in work environment, child care, exercise opportunities, and even providing for diet preferences. Obviously, such investigation requires clear and respectful communication between worker and employer.
Gathercole also notes how communication is especially important in increasing productivity, maintaining employee morale, and giving workers a sense of company identity. Managing, brainstorming, building teams, fostering cooperation and compromise, are all important contributions to the company “bottom line” without making workers feel like forgotten cogs in a wheel.
The best communication is face-to-face. The ease and convenience of our digital world often makes emails and texts relatively impersonal. These convenient forms of communication can also fail to convey nuance in conversation and produce misunderstandings, frustration, and resentment. On the other hand, the clarity of body language, voice tone, facial expressions, and a host of other intangibles are generally enhanced in face-to-face interaction. Even phone interactions are usually superior to electronic messaging.
Following good HR principles will increase the likelihood of having workers who are satisfied with their employment, believe they are valued and appreciated, willing to risk thinking “outside the box,” and feel somewhat empowered to play a role in policies. A careful evaluation of these HR principles by reading “between the lines” should show you that they are also effective coping lessons for challenging conflicts and emotional upheaval in your own life.
Consider communication. How do you communicate with others? In conversations with others do you impose your will on them and act like a dictatorial boss, always conveying the message that you know more and are in charge? Do you truly listen, or do you wait impatiently and interrupt to inject your opinion? Do you fail to put yourself in others’ shoes and try to see things from their perspective? Do you use “I” frequently?
Clear, respectful, and genuine two-way communication is usually involved in effective coping and productive interactions with others. In this blog we repeatedly talk about the importance of communication with others in coping with the challenges of everyday life. You need to train yourself to monitor your reactions and comments when talking with others; you must work at understanding their perspective, and recognizing that it may be different from yours, but that does make their perspective less valid than yours; you must realize that good communication works to find a middle ground between differing perspectives, not argue over whose perspective is better; you must treat others with courtesy, respect, and empathy; you must treat them as you want them to treat you.
Communication with others can be one of the best ways to cope effectively with life’s curve balls, because so often those curve balls come at you because of conflict with others. Seek out face-to-face interactions, and remember the four “C’s” of effective social communication: Consultation; Clarity; Cooperation; Compromise.