Handling complicated communication conundrums

Handling complicated communication conundrums

Four ideas for handling common workplace problems.

Good communication goes a long ways. Many difficult workplace situations can be avoided or resolved with little headache or hassle.  Below are a few common communication conundrums and suggestions for how communication can help resolve them.

Unrealistic expectations

Your boss or a co-worker has come to you with a project or needs assistance. What they are asking for, you don’t feel you’ll be able to accomplish, or the timeframe they’ve given seems tight.  What to do?

First, don’t respond too quickly that you’re unable to help. Rather, ask your boss/co-worker for advice on how they would go about accomplishing the project.  Throughout that discussion offer your ideas and suggestions.  If the timeline is too tight, share that you have other projects to complete, but would be happy to help and give a realistic completion date. If it is your boss asking for help, you can also follow with, ‘If that does not work, are there others that could help me or can we look at my projects and reprioritize so I can get to this project sooner?’ 

Problems with a co-worker

There is nothing that says you have to be best friends with everyone at work.  Like life, there will probably be people that you just won’t get along with.  How you handle interactions with those people can impact how you are viewed by your peers and also how you feel about yourself.  The Golden Rule applies – Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Problem situations with co-workers usually revolve around poor communication and not understanding the other person’s point of view.

When there is a conflict in the workplace, your key weapon is to listen.  Seek to understand what the other person is trying to communicate. Ask questions!  In return, ask that your peer hears you out.  Stay calm!  Remember there is usually more than one way to do something or resolve a problem. 

Dissatisfied with your work environment

While it may be difficult, the best thing you can do for yourself when you are unhappy with your work environment is to communicate with your superior. If you do not have the resources you need to do your job or are unhappy with the tools you’ve been provided, nothing will change unless you say something about it.  Approach your boss in a non-threatening manner and share your thoughts and why they are affecting you.  Most managers will realize your concerns are affecting your productivity and hopefully will work to resolve the issues. 

Working with someone of a different background

This could be someone from a different generation, ethnical background, or even simply the opposite gender. There has been a lot of research done on communication between different generations, as well as different genders. While this topic could be a full blog in itself, one piece of advice if you are struggling with working with someone with a different background is to ask for some formal or informal training.  There are some really interesting things that operations are doing to address this issue, particularly with diverse populations.

Many forget that effective communication is a two-way street, the person talking and the person listening.  Listening really is just as important and can be the key to many workplace communication conundrums.


Erika is Director of Marketing & Communications for AgCareers.com, a leading online career site and human resource service provider for the agriculture, food, natural resources and biotech industries. Erika is a graduate of Iowa State University, with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications - Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. AgCareers.com connects job seekers and employers through a targeted, online tool that is economical and produces results.  Beyond the job board, AgCareers.com offers human resource professionals a suite of products to assist with their recruitment and retention needs.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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