Improving Communication & Behaviour At Work PT. III - Interdependent Communication Obstacles


To continue our mini series on ‘How to improve behaviour and communication in the workplace’ we are going to explore the concept of ‘Interdependent communication obstacles’. If you missed Part I: ‘assumptions’ click here or Part II ‘Maps’ click here.

There are 2 crucial obstacles that I believe are strong detractors of trust and a feeling of ‘safety’; the vital pillars to healthy team communication

1. Not Communicating With An Awareness Of The Brain’s ‘Social Needs’

Much like our physiological needs such as water, food and shelter, there are also basic needs of the brain. In recent weeks we have been talking about the 5 drivers of behaviour in a workplace and the effects they have on individual performance and culture when they are triggered (click here if you missed them). Being unaware and not taking care of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness, can cause major communication breakdown within a team, company or organisation. In not only our work place culture but our everyday conversations with employees, teams, work colleagues and even friends and family, we can support each of these social needs to help convey our ideas, goals or requests, and in turn become greater influencers.

For Example:

- If you want to avoid a conversation going around in circles or becoming emotionally charged – be succinct when you communicate; take care of the ‘why, when, how and who’ of the conversation (increasing certainty). This particular tool, known as ‘placement’, is great to implement at the start of a meeting, in a difficult conversation, when you’re short on time or have a lot to discuss.

- If you have a specific task you want somebody to carry – learn to communicate without being too directive or needing to micromanage (heightening their autonomy)

- If you want people to trust, listen and like you more - develop your sense of presence and warmth (heightening your relate-ability towards others)

- If you want someone to be open and receptive to what you are asking or saying – we can respect and ask people if they are willing to talk about an issue before diving straight into the conversation. Checking to see if “now is a good time to have this conversation is a great conversation starter (heightening individual status and improve relate-ability)

- If you want your employees to be committed to goals and challenges – encourage them to create their own ideas in a solution focused way (increase their autonomy) and/or encourage higher levels of collaboration within your team (increasing the teams sense of relatedness)

Communication within a team can be greatly enhanced when we put an individuals mind at ease and their sense of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness is taken care of.

2. ‘Filters’ That Inhibit Our Listening Potential

A major contributor to poor listening is our mental filter; the unconscious mental frames through which we evaluate. Our differences in values, beliefs, and experiences often block us from truly hearing a person. We almost always have our own way of doing things, or values that are different from some of those around us, and it causes us to examine and then negatively evaluate others through our own mental filter. This is often an inhibitor of building strong relationships within teams.

When we observe simply to understand, instead of compete or challenge, we value an individual’s points of difference without feeling as though they are ‘wrong’ ‘out of line’ or ‘different’. This builds cohesiveness, commitment and synergy within relationships and teams.

Taking Action 

Is there a sense of ‘safety’ to minimize the threat response before getting people to focus on your intentions, goals and ideas?

How well do leaders and teams practice actively listening, to best support the individual going forward?

I would love to hear some of your thoughts or challenges...

About Ben:

Ben works with:

- leaders in organisations to influence behaviour (Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Under performing staff, Demotivated Teams, Constructive Feedback & Performance Reviews) so that they can double their results. 

- individuals at work become aware of the skill sets and behaviors to achieve world class performance. These include both staff and leaders maximize performance at a personal and career level thereby transforming workplaces and creating excellence for both the person and the organization itself.


Benjamin Young

Speaker | Coach | Trainer | at Job Performance Coaching & Training

I help executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results, sustainably. I help both leaders and employees improve excellence, energy & productivity in the workplace. I do this by teaching three specific skill sets: 1. Dealing with having too much to do 2. Staying cool under pressure 3. Influencing Behaviour -(Presenteeism, Absenteeism, Underperforming staff, Constructive Feedback)

Comments (1)
Phil Joel

Phil Joel, Director at SavvySME

Thanks for sharing this article Ben. Really good advice to think before we speak. It's not what you say but how you say it that makes the difference.